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benefits of freebleeding

Illustration by Katrin Friedmann

Reading time: 4 min

6 benefits of freebleeding

Free bleeding is an empowering and positive way to confront the reality and social stigma of menstruation.

Periods are a normal part of many people’s lives. They shouldn’t make you feel uncomfortable, disrupt your daily activities or cause you to feel ashamed. People with periods have more important issues to face than being wrapped up in period taboo. But what can we do to address menstruation without it taking up our lives?

Free bleeding is an empowering and positive way to confront the reality and social stigma of menstruation. So what is 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. Some people free bleed onto towels and some people wear leggings or period panties.

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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 period 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 and the volume of your period blood. My flow is light to medium, and these styles worked well for me.

Free bleeding into reusable underwear is an environmental 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 reducing my environmental impact. Think about all those plastic applicators that go straight into the landfill — it’s not like they’re typically recycled. But ditching tampons entirely reduces energy to produce and dispose of them. Using reusable period products will also cut down on the packaging that you dispose of with each tampon or pad.

3. Things feel surprisingly dry and comfortable.

Pads tend to feel like wet diapers to me. Even on heavier days and during a 5k run, things felt dry and comfortable. THINX uses micro technology that soaks up the bodily fluid (blood and sweat) without creating an overly moist environment. For people who experience heavy menstrual bleeding, they might need to change their period pants more frequently.

4. You’ll save money in the long run.

Period products are expensive — especially in the USA. 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.

I know that the investment is not possible for all people though. Some people in the free bleeding movement make their blood stains visible to draw attention to period poverty. People like Nadya Okamoto have set up organisations to distribute period products to people who cannot afford them.

5. Less consumption; more activism.

The free bleeding movement is all about highlighting period poverty and the environmental damage that period products do, as well as breaking the stigma around periods. The activist Kiran Gandhi even ran the London marathon with blood dripping down her legs to raise awareness about periods.

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.

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