Free instinctive flow: how to practice it? Methods and tips

The practice of instinctive flow, which originated in the United States, consists of retaining the blood of one's period in the vagina, without the use of sanitary napkins and tampons, in order to evacuate it voluntarily, in the toilet for example.

What is free instinctive flow (FIF)?

Free instinctive flow, also abbreviated to FIF, is a solution to retain the blood of one's period by contracting the muscles of the perineum until it is time toevacuate it. It is an ecological and economical method which does not require the use of periodical protections and which allows you to rediscover the sensations of your body and to listen to your menstrual signals.

Free flow instinct: a method democratized in the United States

Initiated on the other side of the Atlantic, the free flow during menstruation was born in 2015, popularized on the Internet and social networks, thanks to bloggers and youtubers who have promoted this ecological and natural method. The skepticism around the effectiveness of the method has also participated in increasing its success, many women wondering if the method was really reliable! This method is much more practiced by American women than European ones, but its democratization tends to reduce the gap.

How to practice free instinctive flow?

You are probably wondering how to practice free instinctive flow in this case! To practice the FIL, it is first necessary to understand one's flow, to listen to one's body and to train: it is not a method that can be acquired in 5 minutes! It is rather a work over several cycles on one's body awareness to tame menstrual continence.

Step 1: Observe and understand your menstrual flow

First of all, it is necessary for you to observe your menstrual losses by wearing an external protection, i.e. which lets flow the losses of the periods. It is then crucial to identify the following key points:
  • The arrival of your period: know how to predict with certainty when your period will arrive in the next few days and know your premenstrual symptoms and your cycle
  • Key moments: know when your blood usually flows and when it does not flow or when it does not come out
  • Quantity: which day of the cycle and which time of the day is the most important for blood loss
  • Sensations: being able to feel the sensation of blood flowing into the vagina from the cervix to the labia minora, feeling uterine contractions, or bladder pressure, urge to urinate, heaviness in the lower abdomen
  • Your daily activities: what activities do or do not promote flow (sports, bathing, sleeping, carrying heavy loads, sneezing...)

This exercise will allow you to reconnect to your body sensations and establish the first reference points to set up the free instinctive flow. Indeed, your cycle may not be regulated like a clock, and menstrual blood does not flow continuously: it is therefore necessary to rely on a set of factors and signals to be deciphered in order to practice the FIL effectively.

Step 2: Experience instinctive flow at home

At the beginning of the instinctive free flow, you will probably need to go to the bathroom regularly to evacuate blood. We therefore recommend that you try it out in the comfort of your own home! Indeed, at the beginning, accidents can happen, so it is important to feel at ease, to be calm and able to concentrate on your body sensations. If this is not possible, you can always use an external sanitary protection such as a menstrual panty to avoid leaks and experiment without stress!

At Elia, we offer a model of shorts in ecru color to practice the FIL and to quickly check if drops have been evacuated involuntarily. As you go along, you will develop a habit!

Step 3: Listen to your body and analyze your blood flow

In concrete terms, as soon as you feel a liquid flowing from your cervix, you will be able to contract your perineum muscles, which will allow the vagina to tighten: the blood loss will not be able to flow into the bottom of your panties! Indeed, the perineum is composed of a set of muscles that cover the bottom of the pelvis, from the pubis to the coccyx, and that play a role in continence. Although few women are aware of it before their pregnancy, the perineum can contract and relax voluntarily on command! It is therefore important to keep it toned!

After holding back your bleeding, you can go to the bathroom, or shower, to evacuate it! The goal is to gradually increase the time during which you are able to hold back, so that you can evacuate it only when you go to the toilet to pee: from about fifteen minutes you can quickly go to a few hours by making your desire to urinate coincide with your relaxation of the perineum muscles!

It's easy to train yourself to let the urine flow to the toilet, because we are generally conditioned to relax the pelvic floor once we are sitting on the toilet, or even to push! The urine stream usually flows much faster and first: don't be fooled, the blood is more viscous and takes a little longer to flow down the vaginal wall. It is also very useful to observe visually what is flowing, to appreciate the quantity. Don't hesitate to stay a little longer on the throne to wait for the last few drops to come down.

As time goes by, you will be able to refine your sensations to be more and more efficient in the practice of FIL during the day. Once the reflexes are acquired, it is then possible to train them to last at night, because it is less easy! The muscles tend to relax naturally and make menstrual continence more complicated.

Why opt for free instinctive flow?

There are many advantages to choosing IDF:
  • It's economical: you won't have to spend money on menstrual protection every month, free instinctive flow is free!
  • It is good for the planet: without waste and without production, the free instinctive flow engages only you and leaves no impact on the environment
  • It puts you back in control: you are now fully aware and in possession of your bodily sensations, you can also free yourself from the inconveniences linked to sanitary protection in your sexual life
  • It is good for your body: without endocrine disruptor, this method of menstrual continence also allows you to strengthen and maintain your perineum, which supports your entire pelvic floor: goodbye to organ descent!
  • There are no odors: secretions do not have time to stagnate in your sanitary protection and bacteria to develop there, they are evacuated after a few hours throughout the day

Is it dangerous to practice free instinctive flow?

There is no known danger to practicing free instinctive flow. There is no risk of toxic shock syndrome, despite the presence of blood stagnating in the vagina, because the frequency of evacuation is less than 4 hours: in fact, we urinate on average 6 times a day!

The disadvantages of the practice of free instinctive flow

On the other hand, there may be some difficulties or disadvantages to practicing IDF:
  • After childbirth or a difficult pregnancy: the perineum is less tonic and its contraction over a long period is compromised. It is therefore necessary to first undergo perineal re-education
  • Sports over a long period of time: if one or two hours of sports activity is perfectly feasible, over a longer period of time without access to a toilet or during sports that are particularly physical for the body, the risk of overflow is increased
  • During a bleeding period or a copper coil: this implies going to the toilet several times an hour, which can be complicated if you are not at home
  • At night: when you are particularly prone to heavy sleep and muscle relaxation, you are usually on automatic pilot and blood could stagnate for several hours in the vagina depending on your flow
  • Without access to a toilet: if you are on the move or without access throughout the day to a toilet, you will not be able to evacuate!
  • If you are very tired and/or ill: fatigue causes you to lose concentration and the muscle contraction of the perineum is reduced, as well as repeated sneezing or coughing which can lead to involuntary leakage!

In these cases, we advise you to double up with menstrual panties!

Is it possible to practice instinctive flow with heavy periods?

It's not impossible, but when you have a heavy period or bleeding, menstrual blood loss is much greater, so you have to go to the bathroom much more regularly. It depends on your ability to go several times an hour and the impact on your day. The risk of involuntary bleeding is therefore more common.

Free gut flow FAQ

How to practice free instinctive flow?

To practice free instinctive flow, you must first listen to your body and its signals that indicate that blood is flowing from the cervix and down the vaginal wall. As soon as this is the case, you should contract your perineum and only release it when you go to the bathroom!

Is it possible to hold back your period?

It is quite possible to voluntarily hold back the flow of blood from your period, and only facilitate its flow when you decide to do so! This is called the free instinctive flow or the free flow instinct method.

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