How to practice free instinctive flow?

Free instinctive flow or free flow instinct is a method that aims to control your blood flow during menstruation. Which women is this technique for? Does she have any contraindications? We give you some information here.

Why set yourself free instinctive flow?

In theory, the free instinctive flow (or free flow instinct among our friends across the Atlantic) has many advantages:

- An economical method: did you know that women spend an average of 18 euros per cycle for their periodic protection? Not to mention the new panties regularly bought because of leaks during menstruation. By practicing free instinctive flow, you can say goodbye to period protection: pads, tampons or menstrual cups.

- A green method: if you remember our last blog post on reducing waste during menstruation, you know that 45 billion sanitary napkins are thrown away every year in the world. Each of them takes about 500 years to degrade. From an ecological point of view, it is a real disaster. Here you need nothing more than your little pelvic floor muscles to help you stay dry!

- A healthy method: thanks to the free instinctive flow, you evacuate the periodic protections and in the process you avoid the toxic products with barbaric names contained in the disposable towels and tampons sold in supermarkets: BMHCA, HAP, pesticides, dioxins, furans, DnOP, …

- An emancipatory method: with free instinctive flow, you are no longer dependent on your rules. You no longer need to ask your best friend if she has a tampon in her bag! From now on, you will find your best allies within yourself, with at the top of the list: your ability to listen to your body!

Free instinctive flow: concretely, how do we do it?

In practice, if you have taken it into your head to test the free instinctive flow, expect to shake up your habits somewhat. You will first need a little patience, a lot of work and a lot of serenity. The technique will come gradually. Take advantage of a moment of tranquility like the holidays to start your learning. Take some time to build your perineum and try this control technique on a light to moderate blood flow day. We also advise you to equip yourself with SMOON menstrual panties in order to get started without risking staining your clothes. Then, just as you would in a meditation session, listen to your body.

To fully understand where the issue lies, here is some information on the functioning of the uterus and vagina during the cycle.

Menstrual blood comes from the uterus where the endometrium (uterine wall) detaches at the end of the cycle when no fertilization has taken place and there is no pregnancy. This disintegration of the endometrium is done gradually, under the effect of contractions of the uterus. These contractions, causing slight pain, make it possible to identify the approach of the blood flow. The challenge, if you accept it, is to identify these uterine contractions and then to hold back the flow of blood by contracting the muscles of the perineum. Then, you just have to go to the toilet and relax the pelvic muscles and in particular the muscles of the perineum in order to release the pressure and let the blood trapped inside flow.

Free instinctive flow: the importance of the perineum

The instinctive free flow method is largely based on the contraction of the perineum which would help to retain the flow of blood during menstruation. But in fact, what is the perineum?

The perineum or pelvic floor is a group of muscles and ligaments that extends into the small pelvis, between the pubis and the coccyx. His role ? Support the organs located in the pelvis (small pelvis) such as the bladder, rectum or uterus. It also helps to contract the vagina and participates in the mechanism of urinary and fecal continence. Sometimes, the perineum no longer performs its role correctly for various reasons: pregnancy, childbirth, constipation or chronic cough, obesity, aging. The consequences of this relaxation are often minimal and temporary. Sometimes they are more troublesome: vaginal incompetence, urinary or faecal incontinence, genital prolapse (organ descent).

To regain good tone, the gynecologist will prescribe rehabilitation sessions under the supervision of a physiotherapist or a midwife. It is generally necessary to wait 6 to 8 weeks before starting perineal rehabilitation after childbirth.

The controversy around instinctive free flow

Although free instinctive flow sounds simple in theory, few women stick with it over time. Indeed, according to the testimony of several "apprentices", this method is:

- Constraining: to practice the free instinctive flow, you not only and imperatively need a toilet nearby, at least at the beginning, but you will also need a moment of calm to keep a cool head and feel the sensations in your body. It's not easy when you run around and go from the crowded subway in the morning to the countless tasks that await us at work.

- Inaccessible for some women: for those with irregular periods, but especially heavy or even very heavy periods, the method can be discouraging. Stopping an almost unlimited flow thanks to the free instinctive flow is almost impossible. Unless you spend your life in the toilet. An almost untenable situation for those of us who wear a copper IUD. Same observation for those who would try this method just after childbirth. Your gynecologist will formally advise you against learning free instinctive flow without having completed your perineal rehabilitation.

- Anatomically complicated: unlike urine whose output is subject to the control of our urethra, for our menstruation, there is no sphincter (circular muscle around a natural conduit that it closes by contraction) preventing the flow blood to flow. We can only rely on our perineal muscle to impede its exit. Suffice to say that it is not in our interest to relax. Otherwise, disaster is guaranteed.

- Uncertain at night: even if we sleep, our body continues to function and our blood to flow. The question then arises: what about instinct while we sleep? And how do we stop the flow when we relax our muscles to sleep?

- Potentially dangerous: by preventing the blood from flowing towards the vagina and the vulva, we take the risk of seeing it flow back towards the uterus and then towards the fallopian tubes. This phenomenon according to some gynecologists could be responsible for a pelvic infection. Worse, it could be the cause of endometriosis. (As a reminder, endometriosis is a disease characterized by the presence outside the uterine cavity of endometrial cells (inner lining of the uterus). Endometriosis can affect the ovaries, rectum, bladder The theory of endometrial regurgitation during menstruation (implantation theory) would explain this phenomenon. Clearly, during menstruation, under the effect of uterine contractions, part of the blood would be pushed back into the fallopian tubes and lead to neighboring organs.

Suffice to say that the free instinctive flow leaves uncertainties as to its harmlessness. Needless to say, this technique is particularly not recommended for women suffering from endometriosis.

Beyond the advantages and disadvantages of free instinctive flow, it is above all a question of feeling. Listening to your body isn't always easy, but if you're comfortable with your feelings (and your period), all you have to do is test it out for yourself. And for all women who don't feel ready to take the plunge, but who want to free themselves from conventional period protection, menstrual panties are the ideal allies! Find our article on the 5 good reasons to adopt menstrual panties.

By Valerie.