Most of us use a tampon (or a
pad, menstrual cup, or period panties) whenever our period rolls
around. But if you’ve heard more about free bleeding – aka using nothing
during your period – you probably have some questions.
While free bleeding is pretty much exactly what it sounds like,
the details of it are still a little hazy to anyone who hasn’t tried it out.
Here’s what you should know about free bleeding.
What is free bleeding?
Free bleeding is when you don’t do anything to block or collect
your period blood. As a result, things can get messy (I’m talking a few
underwear or wardrobe changes throughout the day).
There are, of course, period panties (like Moontime reusable pads) and period-proof
running shorts, which may help you ease into free bleeding. But if you’re going
to free bleed for real, the idea is to go period product-free … completely.
Of course, free bleeding isn’t exactly a new thing. In fact,
menstrual blood was thought of as "magical" in ancient times, explains Dr Jennifer Wider,
author of The Savvy Woman Patient. Wider says it wasn’t
until the late 19th century that issues of cleanliness were brought up and
sanitary belts and tampons were later invented.
More recently, Drummer Kiran Gandhi ran the 2015 London
Marathon while free bleeding. “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,” she said in post on her personal blog, explaining why she did it.
Kiran’s not alone. Other women choose to free bleed to bring
awareness to those without access to feminine hygiene products, while others do
it to shed the stigma attached to period blood (and having a period at all).
Still others may just feel more comfortable going without tampons and pads.
Regardless of the reason, free bleeding is an incredibly personal choice.
Read more: 5 alternatives to pads and tampons you should think about trying
Are there any health benefits to free bleeding?
Well, when you subtract tampons from the equation, you
significantly reduce your risk of developing toxic shock syndrome (TSS), a
life-threatening complication you can get when you leave a tampon in for too
long, says Wider. (Tip: Tampons should only be left in for eight hours, max).
But you can also slash that risk by using pads.
Ultimately, there haven’t been any proven health benefits to free
bleeding (though it may be more comfortable for women, versus wearing a tampon,
pad, or menstrual cup). Some even say it feels, well, freeing. “Women who free
bleed often describe it as liberating and feel that it is nothing they need to
hide or feel ashamed of,” says Wider. “It’s really a personal choice.”
This article was originally
published on www.womenshealthmag.com
Image credit: iStock