Free bleeding

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Free bleeding is the practice of menstruating without blocking or collecting the period flow. In recent years it has become a subject of public debate.


The movement started in the 1970s as a reaction to toxic shock syndrome, a rare and sometimes fatal condition that can be caused when bacteria grow in tampons worn to absorb menstrual bleeding.[1] It regained popularity in 2014 as a result of a prank originating in the internet site 4chan.[2] Kiran Gandhi ran in the London Marathon, while free bleeding as a symbolic act to combat menstrual stigma around the world. [3][4] The movement focuses on a woman's own comfort.[5] The movement has also led to free products for women in school bathrooms.[6] More recently, efforts have been made to extend this movement to trans men who also menstruate as part of "menstrual equality". Some campuses are adding free menstrual products to men's bathrooms as well.[7]

Menstrual practices in India[edit]

Many cultures have different approaches to this monthly experience for women, some which are celebratory and others shameful.[8] These may differ from rituals to extreme isolation. For example, Menstruation huts, used in Balinese and Hindus in South India as well as by Rastafarian societies, serve as a “protection system” for women who are menstruating to keep them separated from their families. They believe these huts protect one, especially during their first period, from bad dreams as long as they stay awake all through the night.[8]

These extreme forms of shame and suppress come from the same social agents as they do in many other countries and areas in the world, including media, parental sensitivity, and peers/people within the community.[9]  “In India [menstruation] is considered unclean, and young girls are restricted from participating in household and religious activities during menstruation."[10]This sense of uncleanliness is partially due to only 12% of women being able to afford the necessary sanitation needed for periods.[10]

Practices in Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea[edit]

Japan was the first country to permit period leave in 1947. Subsequently following, South Korea now offers women 1 day off per month. Taiwanese have 3 days off per year, and Indonesians are allowed to take 2 days off per month.[8] Japan first originally started period leave for more simplistic reasons of sanitation since women used to have to use rags and cotton cloth for period products. With today's developed period products, women can take leave for cramps and discomfort that usually accompanies periods for most women.[8]


Free bleeding underwear are a result of the free bleeding movement that have received media attention.[11] These products are in response to the use of tampons.[12] In the United States, one brand of free-bleeding underwear is made by the company Thinx.


  1. ^ Bereznak, Alyssa (16 September 2016). "Silicon Valley's Quest to Make Periods Cool".
  2. ^ Moss, Gabrielle. "What Is Free Bleeding, Exactly?". Retrieved 3 December 2018.
  3. ^ "Latest Health News - Current Health News Stories, Natural Health & Fitness News Articles - Zee News". 2015-08-20.
  4. ^ "'Free bleeding' and the stupidly clever feminists who fell for it". 15 August 2015.
  5. ^ "Kiran Gandhi discusses free-bleeding while running the London Marathon, and using the period as protest". 11 August 2015.
  6. ^ "Free tampons and pads are coming to U.S. schools". 6 September 2016.
  7. ^ Arriaga, A. (May 16, 2017). "Tampons in Men's Rooms? It's Just a Small Part of "Menstrual Equality," Campus Activist Say". The Chronicle of Higher Education.
  8. ^ a b c d "How menstruating women are treated around the world". Topics. Retrieved 2018-12-03.
  9. ^ Chopra, Shruti; Sharma, Krishan (2011). "The Development of Menstrual-Related Beliefs and Behaviours During Adolescence in a Semi Rural Haryana (India)". Anthropologie. 49 (2): 95–108. JSTOR 26272368.
  10. ^ a b Shah, Shobha P; Nair, Rajesh; Shah, Pankaj P; Modi, Dhiren K; Desai, Shrey A; Desai, Lata (2013). "Improving quality of life with new menstrual hygiene practices among adolescent tribal girls in rural Gujarat, India". Reproductive Health Matters. 21 (41): 205–213. doi:10.1016/s0968-8080(13)41691-9. JSTOR 43288976.
  11. ^ "I Tried Free Bleeding Into Period Panties and This Is What Happened". 7 April 2016.
  12. ^ "What It's Really Like to Free-Bleed During Your Period". 3 June 2015.