8 Nigerian Women Talk About Why They Free Bleed

November 19, 2021

In an article about the first time Nigerian women used tampons, one of the subjects, Voke said that she free bleeds when she’s alone and out of tampons. A lot of people in our WhatsApp groups and on Twitter were confused about what free bleeding means. Free bleeding is simply the act of letting your blood flow without any period products like pads, tampons or cups. People free bleed as a form of protest to pink tax or because there is no alternative available to them. We spoke to eight Nigerian women about why they choose to free bleed and here’s what they had to say: 

Bimbo, 25

I started free bleeding in March 2021 because I ran out of tampons and pads. It was late, and honestly, I was too tired to make the trip to the store. Also, it was my third day. I wore a panty liner and went to bed. 

I usually wake up in the middle of the night to take 400mg of Ibuprofen because of period cramps, but that night I didn’t need to. I felt at ease, which was so unusual. 

The next month, I decided to try free bleeding again. I bought period pants on Amazon. The first two days of my period are heavy, so it ended up messy — I stained myself a lot but I noticed my cramps reduced. My cramps went from a level 8 to a level 3.

Instead of taking drugs, I used hot water bottles on my tummy and my back to reduce the cramps. In May, I did the same thing and it was smoother this time because I knew what to expect. I’ve been free bleeding since then. I use pads when I’m not at home but never tampons. 

Isoken, 20

I started free bleeding in 2020. I do it because pads usually give me rashes and tampons are uncomfortable for me. I don’t free bleed all the time, but I feel a lot better on the days I can.  

Tee, 21

I have terrible cramps. In August 2021, I searched for sustainable remedies for my cramps and found an article on free bleeding. After reading it, I decided to give it a shot. I haven’t looked back since then. 

I free bleed in my room. My period lasts for five days, and I rarely leave my room so the chances of traumatising anyone is low. Since I started, my cramps have been significantly lighter.

Chi, 23

I just do it because I can. Some people wear period panties while they free bleed but I don’t — I lay naked and tuck some old t-shirts or towels around me. If it’s an especially heavy day, I rinse off a lot in the shower. 

Nicole, 25

In 2020, my period reduced from seven days of heavy flow to four days. It made choosing free bleeding easier. 

The first day of my flow is usually light and my period sometimes catches me unaware. So most times, I end up free bleeding on the first day. I also free bleed during the last days because, at this point, there’s little to no blood. Pads and tampons are generally uncomfortable, so whenever I can, I just let the blood flow. 

Mimi, 20

I had my first period when I was 12. I was able to take care of myself, but I had a problem — pads caused a rash on my vulva. I could bear period cramps but the burn from the rash was insane. 

One Saturday afternoon when I was 16, I decided not to wear pads after changing for the third time that day. I wore my briefs and spread a folded blanket on my bed. When I woke up, I noticed I only spotted a little and didn’t have cramps. I disinfected the blanket and steamed it in the dryer before trying it again.  I noticed the burning stopped and my cramps were minimal. Since then, I have been free bleeding on and off during my periods. My mum got me a macintosh bed sheet so I don’t soil my bed. I make sure to disinfect my sheets and my room whenever I free bleed. 

IB, 25

I really can’t be wearing uncomfortable stuff in my bum all day. I don’t get my period all the time because of PCOS. When the period comes, it’s light so I free bleed, especially on the last days.

Blessing, 21

I’ve never been a fan of sanitary pads. Most of them make me itch, and I have to keep readjusting so they won’t fall off. I’ve tried almost every brand of sanitary pads available in Nigeria, and everyone feels the same, so I just free bleed. I love it because my vagina is able to breathe. I really can’t imagine myself wearing a pad for six to seven days, especially at night when NEPA decides to fuck up. I use clothes and try to monitor the stains. It’s also the cheapest option if you ask me. 

Subscribe to our newsletter here.

Join The Conversation

Bring a friend.

You'll like this

October 19, 2020

Women have been said to be at the forefront of this protest. Although some people say women should not join the protest, they did anyway. We asked six Nigerian women why they joined the #EndSARS protests. Linda, 21 Every day I spend on the road, is for the women and the queers. Police brutality affects […]

The Worst Thing A Friend Has Done
May 14, 2021

Friendships can be tricky. Sometimes, friends hurt each other and it’s hard to get past that. In this article, we asked seven Nigerian women to share the worst thing a friend has done to them.  Ibinabo, 24 I had this roommate when I was doing my diploma in Ibadan. I was a new student but […]

July 14, 2021

The subject of today’s What She Said is a 22-year-old who wanted to be a lawyer but studied nursing because of her mother. She talks about being involved in her parent’s interests as a child, choosing sciences for her mother and the challenges of nursing school.  What’s your earliest memory of childhood? It’s memories of […]


Now on Zikoko

Recommended Quizzes

November 19, 2019

Regardless of what society has tried to tell us, enjoying sex is not something to be ashamed of. So, in a bid to celebrate our generation’s sexual agency, we’ve created a quiz that will accurately (again, keep your complaints to yourself) infer how many people you’ve spelt with. Try it out: 11 Quizzes For The […]

January 2, 2020

Do you have even a single romantic bone in your body? Well, if you’re not sure about just how sweet and thoughtful you can be to someone you love, that’s what this quiz is here to answer. 11 Quizzes For Nigerians Who Are Ready To Marry  Are you ready to marry? Take these quizzes.

November 7, 2019

These days, everyone is always talking about how much sex they’re getting, or how little sex they’re getting, or how disgusting sex is etc. There’s just so much talk about sex, it’s almost impossible to know who’s lying and who’s telling the truth. In anticipation of our new series about the sex lives of young […]

how much of an ajebutter
February 12, 2020

Are you an ajebutter or not? Well, if you’ve gone through life blissfully unaware of its harshness, then you probably are. Now, we want to know just how high you rank on that ajebutter scale, using your food preferences as a (very accurate) measure. Take to find out:

More from Her

January 22, 2022

African music has always had its place at the top of the global music industry. These days, with tech switching up the scene and genres blending, everyone keep bringing their A game especially these six female African artistes. 

Read here:

January 18, 2022

Apart from not being able to find shoes their size, tall Nigerian women often deal with comments like “you are too tall for that dress” or questions like “will you marry a short man?” In this article, Chigozie talks about how to be a tall girl in Nigeria. 
Read here:


Trending Videos

Zikoko Originals

December 14, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
November 2, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
October 26, 2020
A collection of videos documenting some of the events of the EndSARS protests.
June 22, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
June 22, 2020
Hacked is an interesting new series by Zikoko made up of fictional but hilarious chat conversations.
June 4, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
June 2, 2020
Quickie is a video series where everyone featured gets only one minute to rant, review or do absolutely anything.
May 14, 2020
Isolation Diary is a Zikoko series that showcases what isolation is like for one young Nigerian working from home due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
March 12, 2020
Life is already hard. Deciding where to eat and get the best lifestyle experiences, isn't something you should stress about. Let VRSUS do that for you.

Z! Stacks

Here's a rabbit hole of stories to lose yourself in:

Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.