Free-bleeding. Ever heard of this? It’s a whole new way for most people. I know I certainly didn’t begin my menstrual journey in this way and sometimes I still feel sad about that.
I recently wrote a few posts about the menstrual cycle and I felt like I had to follow up with free-bleeding. I’m going to give a peak into my journey, illuminate the purpose & gifts of this practice, and give you a few resources if you want to look into it.
My journey started with standard bleached pads and tampons, for years. Once I learned about materials / quality and impact on the vaginal tissue (a very receptive space in the body), I felt really sad for my body and the quality of material that had been there every month for years.
How tampons impact our body
During my pelvic floor training with Tami Kent, we touched on how tampons produce an inflammatory response in the tissue each time they are used. I couldn’t even try to count the amount of tampons I’ve used, but I know that was a lot of inflammation and again, I felt sad and confused. I know that this is political, advertising and the amount of money companies make off women’s bodily needs is just insane, but that’s not what this post is about.
Alternative options for your menstrual cycle
Years later, I started to look into alternative way to manage my bleeding time. My first look outside of tampons / regular pads was the menstrual cup. There are many versions available now. This did really well for me for years. I felt much better about the material (even though it was rubber and now I’m not a fan), I knew I wasn’t producing the same kind response in my tissue, and I could feel a difference in what it actually felt like to bleed instead of “plugging” it.
Eventually, my cervix told me that it was not right to have a cup pressed up against this space while I was supposed to be releasing everything out. It was really uncomfortable for me to remove and the brand of the cup didn’t mention that if you tug on the cup without removing the suction, it can actually be pretty challenging for the cervix to feel that. Again, this made a lot of sense to me. It felt like pressure. It was uncomfortable. It felt crampy.
I’d heard about sea sponges but felt concerned about leaking. I had an awkward period of time where I was using homemade pads but they shifted positions easily, were hard to keep in place, and I ended up leaking onto clothes a few times. That’s when I found out about period underwear and my relationship to this bleed time got completely flipped upside down!
That was years ago and honestly I cannot imagine going back to having ANYthing up in my body while I am in this natural release phase. In fact, I realized the other day that it’s been years since anything besides a human body or a stone has been inside of me. No cups. No tampons. No nothing except human flesh and something that comes from the earth. I know that’s a little extreme, that’s just my way, I know that there are a lot of considerations that come in here when it comes to how to take care of our bleeding time so I have no judgment. My hope is to give you permission about exploring this for yourself.
Free-bleeding is the practice of simply letting the blood come out in its own natural way.
Onto underwear. Onto the earth (can be challenging to orchestrate but is a powerful experience in itself). Into plants (yes, houseplants LOVE menstrual blood! Try it, it’s great medicine for them). Into water. Into the toilet.
Free-bleeding is a different experience than the plug method.
And, it’s really healthy for the vaginal canal. Menstrual blood is packed with the nutrients that is necessary to make life. Letting that blood wash through the vaginal canal is a powerful healing tool that is available to us each month!
Even if free-bleeding is not right for you all the time (like if you want to go swimming, or have a particularly long day where you can’t afford to change your underwear mid-day, or you want to wear a certain outfit that can’t accommodate), I want to encourage you to practice free-bleeding when you can and bring curiosity. Perhaps at night and in the morning when you first wake before the day gets going. Perhaps one day when you’re at home all day. At this point, I find menstrual blood beautiful and it always makes me feel awe. Every single time.
Really, menstruation time is a time of meditation and deep internal states. I try to take a lot of time off for my bleeding time (I go into this in my other blog post on the cycle: https://yourinnerpower.org/
Thinxx Underwear for Free-Bleeding
What I personally do now is I have two sets of the Thinxx underwear (so I know I have enough and don’t have to do emergency laundry). If you have fibroids I know it can be challenging for the body to sit on blood for long periods of time, so you may want to consider how to work with that. Now that it’s been years, I can feel when my body really needs to release the blood and I just make sure I have access to a toilet every hour or so on the heavier bleeding days.
Questions? Need help? Write to me!
With love, Alicia
The menstrual cycle is a deep and nuanced process. However, it doesn’t have to be such a mystery to you or your loved ones. In my last post I wrote about starting to track your cycle & pay attention to your body’s rhythm. In this follow up post I’m going to deepen into the themes of each phase of the cycle and give you a few tips about my most favorite tools to use in relationship to this process.
This is the time to turn inward, like during the winter. Many teachings say that the bleeding time is really supposed to be about meditation & deep embodied experience. Others say it’s about being taken care of. I like both, myself 🙂 A few of the powers of this time are a deep sense of your inner world, the capacity for altered states, and much more. The challenge of this time is often symptoms or pain (I believe a huge part of this is because society does not support people to take time for their natural rhythm, nor does it support people to have balanced bodies, pain isn’t “how it’s supposed to be” and learning this piece was one of the biggest influences on me). The other challenge can be simply to make time for yourself. One of my most favorite things to do is to give myself a menstrual retreat where I do everything in my power to make sure I have nothing on my calendar during my heavier days of bleeding. The more we take care, the more the bleeding time can begin to feel like an important journey of release versus a burden.
** If you go deeply into this process, there are actually phases of the bleeding time that each have their own power and challenge.
If you think of one end an egg as the bleed time and the other end of an egg as ovulation, there is a transition time between bleeding & ovulation….this is the pre-ovulatory phase. The powers of this phase are curiosity and desire among others. This is a great time to begin not come out of the shell of menstruation but not going from 0-100 all at once. One of the challenges here is to allow ourselves to be just coming out of our internal world and to reserve some of ourselves, for ourselves.
This is the peak. If bleeding time is the most internal point, this is the most external polar end. The power of this time is potent! This is a time when we may be particularly gifted at loving others among a slew of other potent powers (many that have a lot of stereotypes about them). I find that a lot of generalizations & stereotypes come in about all of these phases when really, it’s unique process for each individual. The challenges here, in addition to owning your sexual power, can be bountiful for some. Some people really struggle with the level of energy in this phase, sometimes it can feel like anxiety. There can also be tendencies to be less in touch with oneself.
We all know this one. I sometimes refer to this phase as the buildup. This is where we begin to build toward the other polarity. If I forget to take care or pay attention, I often feel like I’m going to explode during this phase. This phase is actually a powerful and potent time, if we can learn to ride the wave. One of the powers of this time is saying no. One of the biggest challenge is to face ourselves and begin to meet our own shadows. There is much depth and gold here if we’re willing to go there.
Curious about the depth of the gifts & challenges? This is a vast world and can’t all fit into a blog post. I teach this practice and model in depth in my programs. I’m always curious to hear what you experience during these phases if you want to write to me. With love, Alicia
The menstrual cycle & fertility is a universe in itself (like most of my blog topics!) In this post I’m going to introduce you to the basic building blocks of beginning to track your cycle, why this is a valuable piece to explore, and a few tools to get you started.
In the wide world, even though this is beginning to change, I still see the menstrual cycle & fertility signs being shamed / avoided / and at best, mysterious. This is a problem because if you live in a body that has a menstrual cycle, that cycle has a big impact on life, energy levels, relationships, sex, and more. The cycle and fertility is actually not mysterious if you learn what you need to know about it all. Learning to have a relationship to my own menstrual cycle & beginning to track the changes happening in my system was one of the first steps I took to empower myself and repair the relationship to my body. After years of immensely painful periods, a few pelvic health scares, overall disconnection, and a slew of other challenges, I can’t recommend this enough.
Follow these steps to initiate and connect with your own cycle & rhythm:
– learn about the phases of the menstrual cycle. The phases of the cycle all have gifts and challenges. When we learn to attune to them, it’s one of the most efficient & energy-saving ways to live. In my experience, it’s also less painful. Even if you’re on birth control, the body still has phases and cycles. Stay tuned for another blog post coming soon diving deeper into the phases of menstrual cycle soon!
– begin to chart your own cycle. I like to make a huge circle and divide it up so that there is one pie slice for each day in the cycle. In each space I do a simple journal entry for each day: mood / emotions, energy level, sleep, sex drive, food cravings, social tendencies, and anything else that stands out to you as important. You can also use any number of different apps that will track this for you on your phone.
– learn about the fluids in your body (mainly cervical fluid, the fluid that is released from the cervix throughout the monthly cycle is an important indicator of the fertile window). There’s a wealth of information out there about this fluid but the key words are: dry / crackling, sticky, egg-white, slippery. Once you start to notice this range of your own fluids, it becomes easier to notice the changes that happen like clockwork.
– notice changes in your body based on the movement of your system throughout the month. If you pay close attention you may start to notice shifts in the pieces that you’re tracking with your app / chart.
– look into breast massage as a way to help with hormonal regulation. A lot of hormonal regulation is dependent on the breasts and most people forget about this important place in the body (I’ll also come out with a more detailed post on this down the road, stay tuned).
Tracking fluids, changes, and living in rhythm with this cycle has been one of the biggest life-changers for me in terms of the day to day. I feel more permission to be where I am instead of trapped in the “be the same” / wear the same size / have the same energy levels / eat the same that I feel being pushed by society. Basically, I don’t feel pressured anymore to be in a static holding pattern throughout the month. The ebb and flow of the cycle is a beautiful thing if we learn how to attune to it and meet the needs of our bodies. If we blow past the needs of our cycle, usually our bodies will let us know with some kind of physical symptom, emotional reaction, conflict in relationship, etc. So much about learning how to attune & regulate the menstrual cycle is about self-care, bodily needs, boundaries, rest, and optimal usage of our energy at the times when it matters the most.
Making sense to you? Hitting home? Write to me, I love hearing from you and always love working with you on learning how to deepen your relationship to this rhythm in order to best serve your whole life! With love, Alicia