In a marked departure from traditional menstrual hygiene practices involving pads and tampons, a growing number of Gen Z women are embracing a trend known as "free bleeding." Free bleeding entails abstaining from the use of any absorbent materials during menstruation, allowing natural blood flow.
This unconventional movement, which actively opposes the use of period products, has found a significant presence on social media platforms, where menstruators openly share their experiences.
The origins of the free bleeding movement remain somewhat enigmatic, but it has been steadily gaining popularity as a protest against the societal stigma surrounding menstruation.
Moreover, it seeks to raise awareness about period poverty and the environmental impact associated with disposable menstrual products.
Championing the Movement
Influencer Charlee has been a vocal advocate for free bleeding, publicly describing it as a healthy choice that also saves money.
Charlee's endorsement of this unconventional approach to menstruation has sparked conversations and garnered attention on various social media platforms.
Another prominent voice in this movement is TikTok influencer Nayda Okamoto, who shared a video of herself dancing in a bikini, lightheartedly revealing her participation in free bleeding, as reported by The New York Post.
Health Claims and Scepticism
While some women have reported health benefits associated with free bleeding, such as reduced period pain when abstaining from tampons or menstrual cups, these claims lack concrete scientific evidence.
One individual, Hannah, gained notoriety for asserting that her period became "lighter than ever" after transitioning to free bleeding.
This declaration prompted discussions among women who shared similar experiences of having lighter menstrual cycles as a result of practising free bleeding, as documented by The New York Post.
A Medical Opinion
However, Dr. Amy Carmichael, a medical expert interviewed by The New York Post, noted that while these reports are intriguing, there is insufficient scientific research to substantiate claims of lighter periods through free bleeding.
She also highlighted that products like tampons might sometimes exacerbate menstrual cramps due to their foreign nature within the body.
Dr Carmichael emphasised that free bleeding, in itself, is not inherently unhealthy and largely depends on individual preferences.
She stressed the importance of respecting personal choices regarding menstrual hygiene practices.
Encouraging open discussions about menstruation in various settings, including workplaces and families, while fostering a culture of self-care during menstruation, is crucial, she added.
Such initiatives play a significant role in destigmatising periods.
A Noteworthy Context
While the free bleeding trend has recently gained popularity among Gen Z menstruators, it is not an entirely new concept.
Several instances of free bleeding have occurred in the past and made headlines. For instance, in 2015, the drummer for British rapper and singer M.I.A. ran the London Marathon while free bleeding to raise awareness for menstruating individuals who lack access to period products.
That same year, artist Rupi Kaur ignited a social media discussion by posting a photograph of herself with visible blood stains on her pants on Instagram and Facebook.
She later challenged the removal of her photographs by the social media platforms, sparking important conversations about menstrual norms in the digital age.
Suggested Reading: Menstrual Products Are Only Just Being Tested On Blood: What Do We Know