You might have heard of free bleeding as an option for when you’re on your period, but you might not know what it involves. Just what is free bleeding, exactly? Why do people choose to do it? What are the benefits of choosing to free bleed, instead of using menstrual products?
Take a look at our handy guide to free bleeding below. You’ll find out all the answers to these questions, and a lot more!
What is free bleeding?
Free bleeding is simple enough in principle; it’s when you choose to menstruate without using products like tampons or sanitary pads to collect the flow. It’s been around as a practice for centuries, but it’s hard to say whether or not peasant women in Medieval England, for instance, chose to free bleed or simply didn’t have many other options.
Modern day menstrual activism really got going in the 1970s, so it’s likely that free bleeding was brought up as a subject in this time, too. But it wasn’t the only option that was being brought to the table ‒ in 1967, the first “protective petticoat” with a “moisture proof material” was also patented for the US market.
Thanks to different developments in technology and the rise of the internet, free bleeding is gaining popularity and a place in people’s choices all over again. As of 2021, it’s been promoted by artists, athletes, and other influencers and celebrities all over the world.
Why do people choose free bleeding over period products?
Everyone has their own individual reasons for choosing to free bleed. Some of these are totally down to personal choice, like not liking the period products available on the market and feeling more comfortable without them. Others, however, might have reasons in mind not related to their own bodies.
For instance, some might choose to free bleed based on the fact that menstruation is a natural process and shouldn’t have to be hidden away. Their mission is to normalise periods and take away the stigma that surrounds them.
You might also find people free bleeding to raise awareness of period poverty and the fact that many people who have periods don’t have access to products or education on their own menstruation. Some may also be protesting against the tampon tax applied to period products around the world (this tax was abolished in the UK on 1st January, 2021).
Even more still might be free bleeding to help the environment. It’s estimated that a typical disposable sanitary pad is made up of around 90% plastic, and every one that’s bought is destined to end up in a landfill one day. By free bleeding, these people are reducing the amount of plastic that pollutes the planet.
Why is free bleeding so controversial?
It’s considered controversial because, over the centuries, societies across the world came to the idea that periods were somehow shameful and dirty. In many countries, people on their periods are still openly shunned, forced to hide away, or kept from going to school. The fact that many places still have a tax on tampons and consider them a “luxury” is a testament to the fact that periods have not yet been made the normal part of life that they should be.
Isn’t free bleeding unsanitary?
Opinion is divided over whether or not free bleeding is unsanitary ‒ after all, the practice does involve bleeding over yourself and your clothes! When exposed to air, menstrual blood can also start to smell, and has the ability to carry a number of bloodborne viruses that can live outside the human body for a long time.
However, the risk of anything being transmitted to other people is low, and, if done properly, free bleeding doesn’t have to be unsanitary at all. Many choose to do it only in certain places, like at night in bed, in the shower, or just at home in general to control the amount of blood they may have to clean up.
What are the benefits of free bleeding?
While it hasn’t been proven to have any health benefits, loads of people have said that choosing to free bleed has helped their menstrual cramping and overall feeling of discomfort. It’s also been suggested that switching to free bleeding reduces your risk of toxic shock syndrome (TSS).
How you choose to free bleed may also have financial benefits, either straight away or in the long term. If you choose to use your own underwear you’ll be stopping buying period products right away and save money straight away. If you opt for period-proof pants instead, you’ll notice a change in your budget after they’ve been bought.
For many, the main benefit is the empowered feeling they get of being in control of their own menstruation when they choose to free bleed.
Are there any other risks involved in free bleeding?
The only other real risk involved with free bleeding is the potential mess it’ll create. If you choose to use your own underwear and decide to go without products, having a particularly heavy period could end up with blood soaking through your clothes. This is especially true on the first couple of days of your cycle.
It’s also possible that you could bleed onto furniture, which might not be a problem if you’re at home, but could cause some issues if you’re out and about.
Setting yourself up for free bleeding menstruation
If you’d like to try free bleeding, we have a few tips and some advice that you might want to bear in mind for at least the first few months:
- Decide where you want to be when trying free bleeding out, which clothes you want to wear when doing it, and when the best time to start will be.
- Start at home or in another place you feel comfortable, so you can work out what to expect from your period somewhere safe.
- Use a towel when sitting on furniture, or to lie on when you’re in bed at night.
- Only go outside if you feel comfortable.
- Pack extra clothes and underwear if you’re leaving the house and think you might bleed through your clothes.
You might not need to follow some of these steps if you’re wearing period underwear, however. These are designed to last all day and should be absorbent enough to take several tampons’ worth of flow.
Does wearing period-proof underwear count as free bleeding?
It’s easy to think of period pants as “just another menstrual product”, but the reality is they’re perfect if you want to free bleed but don’t want the hassle of showing through your clothes! Our own period-proof undies here at FLUX Undies, for instance, come with in-built multi-layer technology that makes leaking near-impossible.
Every pair we sell comes with:
- A top layer for moisture-wicking
- A layer for getting rid of those annoying smells
- A super-absorbent layer to take in more than a tampon’s worth of flow
- A leak-resistant fourth layer, to keep stains a thing of the past
All our pants are designed to look and feel like normal underwear, too, so you’ll find them as easy to slip into for your period as you would any other kind. They won’t feel like an unnatural addition to your body or your everyday pants! Your free bleeding experience will be just as free in our undies as it would be with nothing to catch the flow at all.
What about just wearing regular underwear?
Of course, you’ll always have the option to just wear your normal underwear for your most delicate days. However, you should always make sure you have a spare set of clothes and some more underwear available, especially at the start of your period ‒ the blood could soak through quicker than you think!
You’re also more likely to need to treat normal underwear and clothing, alongside giving it a pre-rinse, before you put any of it in the wash. With our period underwear, giving it that pre-rinse and then bunging it in the washing machine should be more than enough to get them as clean and fresh as when you first bought them.
Feel clean, free, and fresh every month
If you’re thinking of free bleeding as a menstruation option but you’re worried about leaking, our period pants offer you the ideal option in a host of styles!
All of our collections are super-soft, super-absorbent, and designed to keep you dry for up to 8 hours (or even 12 if you’re looking to wear a few pairs at night).
You’ll stay feeling fresh and looking fabulous, all while staying as free as your choice allows you to be.
Why not start yourself off with a couple of pairs to wear at home and see how they make a difference to your month? We’ve even got a 60 day money-back guarantee if you decide that they’re just not how you want to go through your cycle.