Periods should be seen for what they are: normal and healthy. They shouldn’t make people uncomfortable, disrupt daily activities or represent shame. People with periods have more important issues to face than additional biological maintenance. So what can we do to address menstruation without succumbing to it?
Free bleeding is an empowering and positive way to confront the reality and social stigma of menstruation. So what’s free bleeding? Free bleeding is exactly what it sounds like. It’s going through your period without the use of menstrual products — literally going with the flow.
I gave free bleeding a shot during my last period, and didn’t use a single tampon or pad. Even on the second, typically heaviest, day. However, I wanted security and backup, so I wore THINX reusable underwear. It felt liberating to have my period without having to overthink it. You’ll feel it, but can go about your day like it’s nothing. Plus you can wear them all day — depending on the heaviness of your flow. My flow is light to medium, and these styles worked well for me:
Free bleeding into reusable underwear is an easy-going alternative to disposable collection methods. Plus there are some smart benefits:
1. Free bleeding keeps your usual vaginal fluid and healthy bacteria where they should be — in your vagina.
There’s nothing worse than removing a barely soaked tampon too soon or on a light day. The friction can feel terrible, and it temporarily dries out your vagina. Tampons absorb more than just menstrual blood — about a third may be vaginal and cervical fluids (depending on how absorbent your tampon is) (1, 2). This might change the amount of fluid your vagina produces during the rest of the cycle, but more research is needed (2). Free bleeding keeps your usual secretions in place (2).
2. It’s better for the planet.
Switching from applicator tampons to tampons-sans-applicator a few years ago felt like a stride in the right direction for the environment. Think about all those plastic applicators that go straight into the trash — it’s not like they’re typically recycled. But ditching tampons entirely reduces energy to produce and dispose of them. Canceling your menstrual subscription service — the one that delivers packaging within packaging — will also reduce your carbon footprint.
3. Things feel surprisingly dry and comfortable.
Pads tend to feel like wet diapers. Even on heavier days and during a 5k run, things felt dry and comfortable. THINX uses micro technology that soaks up the blood without creating an overly moist environment.
4. You’ll save money in the long run.
Tampons are expensive — especially in the States. Switching to reusable underwear (reusable pads work, too!) will be a bit of an investment up front, but you may never have to stock up on tampons or pads again.** **For people with heavy menstrual bleeding (HMB), this may not be the case.Learn more about HMB here.
5. Less consumption; more philanthropy.
Switching to reusable products means less trips to the drugstore. This is extremely helpful for people who live far from stores and/or people who are on the road often. Now it’s just a matter of getting reusable underwear and pads out into the world. Check out Pads4Girls, an initiative by Lunapads to provide girls and women in developing nations with cloth pads and underwear so that they can attend school or work during their period.
6. No. More. Distractions.
No more anxiety about leaks, running low on tampons/pads, toxic shock syndrome (TSS), toxins and chemicals in menstrual products or ruining your favorite underwear.
Have you ever tried free bleeding? Let us know your experience (with or without backup) and download Clue today to start tracking your period.