Heard the term but not sure what it’s all about? Free bleeding is a protest on the high prices and environmental issues relating to disposable tampons and pads. Read on to find out more, and discover how WUKA has the perfect solution to free bleeding!
What is Free Bleeding?
Free bleeding is the term given to the practice of intentionally menstruating without blocking the flow, or using any form of protection to collect the blood. Dr. Ayanthi Gunasekera, Specialist Registrar at London Gynaecology explains more:
‘Free bleeding is when you choose to menstruate without using products like tampons or sanitary pads to collect and contain the menstrual flow. It is not a new practice and has been around for centuries. For some the intention is to normalise menstruation in society or to take a stand against the “tampon tax”. Others do it raise awareness of period poverty where women do not have access to products and have no choice but to free bleed. There is also the impact disposable products have on the environment that is taken into consideration.’
Free Bleeding Period
Women choosing to bleed freely during their period may have been ‘a thing’ for a long time, but for many of us, we’ve grown up with the idea of leaks – or any other evidence of our period – being somehow shameful. Most of us, at some point in our lives, will have felt embarrassment just at the idea of bleeding onto our clothing. Choosing to allow the blood to flow freely, however, is different.
Women who choose this do so for many reasons, which we will discuss below.
Free Bleeding Movement
The free bleeding movement shuns the use of period protection in favour of allowing the blood flow to release naturally. Women who follow the movement don’t use tampons or pads during menstruation, and this goes for when they are out and about in public too.
So, why turn your back on the products that have been designed to make periods easy to manage, and less ‘embarrassing’? The short answer: it’s a protest.
You have probably heard of the so-called ‘tampon tax’. This refers to the unlawful taxes imposed on sanitary items, forcing women to pay more for the ‘luxury’ of using products such as disposable tampons or pads during their period. The high prices of period protection reduces accessibility for many people who bleed the world over, and this important movement is a protest against this.
It is a call for governments to recognise the fact that having a period is not a luxury, and it should not be taxed as such either. Although ‘tampon tax’ has now been abolished in the UK, here at WUKA, we have been campaigning to have period pants recognised as a period product alongside tampons and pads, so that the taxes on them can be removed as well.
Sadly however, the period pants tax rejection means that even period pants are classed as a ‘luxury item’ – although we are sure not many women will agree that having a period feels anything like luxurious! We are continuing to lobby the government to remove VAT so that prices can be lowered by 20%. Please consider supporting our ongoing efforts to have this decision overturned. We will not give up on this.
Despite the UK finally (after 20 years of campaigning) abolishing the tampon tax for some period products, it still exists in many other countries and is still contributing towards period poverty around the world.
The free bleeding movement recognises and stands with women across the globe who cannot afford tampons or pads because of these taxes. It is also a protest against the stigma that surrounds periods and against the waste that is created with disposable products too.
Is it Good to Free Bleed?
While there are no scientifically-proven physical health benefits associated with eliminating tampons and pads and bleeding freely instead, lots of people who follow the movement have shared anecdotal benefits they have experienced.
Some women report fewer cramps since they stopped using tampons, and by doing that they are also reducing their risk of developing Toxic Shock Syndrome too.
Other women have reported feeling a sense of freedom, and say they feel more relaxed and at peace allowing period blood to flow naturally from the body without intervention.
In the long run, eliminating period products will save you money too, which can be another huge positive for many.
Is it Safe to Free Bleed?
So, is it safe to free bleed? Dr. Gunasekera says it is: ‘It is safe to free bleed. There are no proven health benefits but it is not an unsafe practice.’
While it might be a little more messy and might possibly ruffle some feathers, free bleeding isn’t a dangerous practice. If you are thinking about joining the movement, there are some considerations you might want to take into account though.
Many women choose to start at home so that they can get to grips with their flow and learn what to expect as their cycle progresses. Some also use a towel to sit on to protect furniture and choose to only free bleed in public when their flow is lighter.
Some women wear extra underwear or take spares with them to change into. Ultimately, there is no right or wrong way to free bleed. As long as you’re comfortable, you are free to bleed as you like.
Free Bleed Underwear
Although you can free bleed into your normal underwear, many women find that reusable period pants are a great option: sustainable, practical and the perfect alternative to disposable sanitary products. So, how do they work?
Our WUKA period pants have a super absorbent gusset made up of many layers. The middle layers absorb and lock in the blood, and the outer layers are moisture-wicking so that you stay dry and comfortable. We make sure our period pants are breathable too, to reduce any smells and chance of infection.
Besides ease of use, period pants can also help tackle period poverty, as they can be washed and re-used, cutting down the cost of your period over time – both in terms of finances and environmental cost to the planet.
In the average woman’s lifetime, an extra £1,964.33 is spent on period products and an astonishing 8,349 tampons will be used. That is a lot of landfill waste. Plus, did you know that most tampons and pads contain plastic that will stay in our ecosystems for hundreds of years?
It is worth noting that half of all tampon users in the UK flush them down the loo after use too. It is estimated that 1.5-2 billion disposable period products are being flushed down the toilet each year – at a cost of around £88million per year to unblock sewers that are clogged up with menstrual products. Of course, some of that ends up in our oceans. This is just another reason why we are so passionate about saving 100 tampons with one WUKA.
Compare that to period pants, where one pair of medium flow pants will hold up 15ml of blood, the equivalent of 2-3 tampons. Wearing a pair of WUKA period pants will save 100 tampons from going to landfill, and will last around two years on average, after which they can be recycled. The lifetime cost of using WUKA is just £2,806 compared to £5,246 for an organic cotton pad. Food for thought!