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!

Are you curi­ous to try free bleed­ing and exper­i­ence your period in a new way? Then our online course "Men­stru­ation without products: Learn Free Bleed­ing" is per­fect for you

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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!

Britta Wiebe, period education, Vulvani
Co-Founder Vul­vani | | Web­site | + posts

Britta Wiebe is the co-founder of Vul­vani. She loves research­ing, writ­ing and design­ing new art­icles or innov­at­ive edu­ca­tional con­cepts about men­stru­ation all day long. When she is not trav­el­ling the world, she enjoys spend­ing time with her loved ones in the beau­ti­ful city of Ham­burg in Germany.