To not not use tampons, pads or menstrual cups anymore! Are you ready to voluntarily give up all these products during your next menstruation? Probably not! Most people can’t imagine how free bleeding should work. Only a few menstruating people know this alternative way and practice it. Basically, however, this natural method is as old as humankind itself.
Free bleeding, what is that exactly? And how is it supposed to work?
When practicing free bleeding, period products such as tampons, menstrual cups or sponges are voluntarily not used during menstruation. The blood is therefore not collected by a foreign item inside or outside the body. The blood is rather given ‘free flow’. However, this does not end in bloody trousers or smeared bed linen. Because there is good news here: the basic assumption that menstrual blood is literally unstoppable is not quite correct!
The menstrual discharge (blood plus lining of the uterus) is first collected at the cervix and then expellled in phases. Through a conscious perception of one’s own body, it is possible to feel when the blood is flowing. Through muscle strength the blood can also be intentionally held back to a certain point. There is a slight pressure in the abdomen, which feels a bit like a full bladder. During free bleeding, the menstrual blood is finally discharged directly on the toilet by relaxing the pelvic floor. The conscious ‘release’ of the menstrual blood, just like any other body fluids, can therefore be controlled. Does this sound too good to be true and yet somehow unimaginable for you? In the calm (and practice!) lies the strength for free bleeding.
You are still thinking free bleeding doesn’t work? Here is my best advice for you:
To be able to learn how to free bleed, you need a good awareness of your body and probably several cycles to practice. And especially at the beginning many quiet moments to develop a good (self-)awareness for your own body and to recognize changes. The best thing to do on your lighter days is to practice at home, so that you don’t have to worry about where to find the next toilet. If you still feel insecure at the beginning, you can, for example, wear a (washable) panty liner as a backup or simply go to the toilet every hour and see what happens. You will be surprised by what your body can do!
And at night? Thanks to gravity, the blood flow is much lower when you lie down than during the day. If you are lucky, you can simply sleep through the night on lighter days. But to be sure, go to the toilet just before going to bed and right after waking up. On heavier days, your body wakes you up – just like when you usually have to go use the toilet at night.
But why should I voluntarily give up menstrual products?
Fair enough. That’s a pretty good question! There are quite different approaches to why people choose to free bleed. The reasons are often very personal and range from discomfort of traditional menstrual products to mindfulness to political or feminist views. Over time, free bleeding also has a positive effect on the period itself. By menstruating without the use of strange prodcuts inside the body, menstruation is given back its naturalness. Less menstrual pain and a shortened menstrual period, for example, are health benefits of free bleeding. Still not quite convinced yet?
Free bleeding is also by far the most environmentally friendly and natural way to make your period more sustainable. Because by doing without conventional disposable products, enormous mountains of waste can be avoided and our environment protected. Free bleeding for the sake of the environment is a good reason! Not using disposable products during menstruation does also mean that you do not have to buy new menstrual prodcuts every month, which is better for your wallet. It’s a win all around!
My experience with free bleeding
Free Bleeding and I: Love at first sight (or rather blood flow?)
When I tried free bleeding for the first time, I was totally excited that it really worked. And I want to tell the whole world about my experiences with free menstruation (that’s why I wrote this text!) because I’m a bit proud, too. It’s like a little success stroy every time and I’m fascinated by what my body is capable of doing. I have the feeling that by free bleeding I pay much more attention to my menstruation. It becomes a conscious part of my everyday life and is no longer something I want to hide or goes unnoticed.
It is a privilege to be able to choose between different menstrual products
The paradox of free bleeding, however, is that on the one hand menstruating people consciously forgo what others involuntarily have to do without. Lack of money and insufficient supply as well as spiritual activism and feminist approaches actually lead to the same result: menstruation without period products. Being able to make this decision consciously and voluntarily is an absolute luxury. To choose free bleeding admist the variety of menstrual products in Germany is a ‘trend’ based on privileges. As a result, the free bleeding movement is sometimes criticized. However, if we are aware of this privilege, we can use it, just like Madame Gandhi at the London Marathon 2015, as a sign of protest and resistance:
‘I ran with blood dripping down my legs for sisters who don’t have access to tampons and sisters who, despite cramping and pain, hide it away and pretend like it doesn’t exist. I ran to say, it does exist, and we overcome it every day. The marathon was radical and absurd and bloody in ways I couldn’t have imagined until the day of the race.’
Free Bleeding as a political and above all feminist statement! Madame Gandhi’s aim at the marathon was to attract attention through ‘shock’ (aka blood) and to start a dialogue about menstruation. Because only through conversations can the silence and taboo about menstruation be broken. The free bleeding movement therefore encourages a more open approach to menstruation and can contribute to more educational information in society.
Photo Courtesy by Madame Gandhi
Now what ?
My message is not that from now on everyone should only bleed freely (although the environment would thank us very much!). Rather, I wish that every menstruating person feels safe and empowered enough to choose the best method or product(s) for themselves during menstruation. Free bleeding will probably not be the right choice for many people and that’s okay! But who knows, maybe you’ve become a little curious now and just let the menstrual blood run free during your next cycle? Free bleeding is definitely worth an experience! Optional: If you have any personal questions, please feel free to message me at any time. With this in mind:
Let it flow & happy free bleeding!
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