Shaylyn Wade has free bled during her period for the past 15 years.
She started at 15, when tampons weren't available at a detention center and pads gave her rashes.
Wade said it's made her more in tune with her body and allowed her save to money.
Editor's note: This post mentions suicide.
When Shaylyn Wade first got her period at 14, her mother showed her how to insert a tampon. It was the last time she'd ever use one.
By the time Wade had her next period, she had landed in a juvenile-detention center in Arizona, where she lived for the next three years. Because of a previous incident at the facility, where a young woman swallowed a tampon to commit suicide, tampons were banned from the facility, she said.
Though pads were provided, Wade quickly learned they gave her red and itchy skin rashes she couldn't stand. From that point on, Wade decided to free bleed into her underwear or a pair of shorts.
Now 30, Wade has forgone tampons for 15 years. That's why she didn't even realize there was a current tampon shortage due to supply-chain issues. Now, tampons are not only more difficult to find, but they're also more expensive than ever before. Over the past year, the cost of tampons rose 9.8%. Over the past few months, people in search of the menstrual products reported difficulty finding them on forums like Reddit.
Video: How banana plant waste is turned into menstrual pads
That's not an issue for Wade.
"Most people, I think, are under the impression that it's kind of gross to free bleed, but I'm not under that impression," Wade, who asked to use her artist last name instead of her real last name to protect her family's privacy, told Insider.
According to Wade, saving money and feeling more comfortable and in sync with her body were added perks to free bleeding, as opposed to using tampons.
Staying near the bathroom, wearing shorts over pants, and carrying an 'emergency sweater' makes free-bleeding a breeze, Wade says
When someone learns Wade free bleeds during her period, they're usually grossed out at first, she said.
But that hasn't stopped her from continuing the method, which she's perfected over the years, and suggesting it to her friends.
When Wade first started free bleeding in the detention center, she didn't use anything to stop the blood. But it was too messy, said Wade, so she started to use a sock or a wad of toilet paper to catch excess blood in her underwear.
After a few periods, Wade noticed certain bodily sensations, which became hints she was about to discharge menstrual blood. She characterized her period as a medium flow that typically lasts five days.
"It kind of just comes in waves, so you have to be very in tune. If you feel like you're going have to go to the bathroom or fart, that's a sign you should probably just go to the toilet," Wade said.
Britta Wiebe, the cofounder of period-education website Vulvani, has also said listening to her body and going to the bathroom during intense cramps on her heaviest flow days, helped her free-bleeding process.
Wade also invested in a few pairs of washable period underwear with a lining designed to catch blood.
When she needs to leave her house and the comfort of her own bathroom, Wade wears the underwear, or layers shorts under her pants for added protection.
She's had a few mishaps over the years, where she's bled through both pairs of pants, revealing a bloodstain in public. Now, she carries an "emergency sweater" to tie around her waist for times like that.
Once, Wade tried a reusable menstrual cup to see if she'd prefer the method over free bleeding, but she found the experience complicated and uncomfortable, so she returned to her tried-and-true method.
Read the original article on Insider