Red alert! What colour should my period be?

Hold on, is this a trick question? Periods are blood, right? And blood is red. So periods = red. Simple.

Mm, not quite.

The thing is, technically your ‘period blood’ is not just blood. It’s a unique pick ‘n’ mix of blood and tissue that has built up in your uterus over the course of your menstrual cycle.

And depending on how heavy your period is, it might come in all sorts of different shades, from dark brown to the palest hint of red. In fact there are probably more period colours than there are Instagram filters – and hey, not every day will be Mayfair.

But don’t worry; whatever the hue, it doesn’t mean ew. Let’s take a look at the period rainbow.  

Dark-brown-OMG-almost-black

Pantone Dark Brown

A lot of people find that on the first day or two that the uterus unicorn comes to visit, it’s less red and more… maroon. Or dark brown. Or-OMG-almost-black. This is totally natural, don’t panic. It’s just older blood.

This could be because the first day or two of your period is relatively light, and the blood is taking a bit longer to leave your body, which gives it a brownish hue. Or alternatively, it could be leftover blood from your last period that your body is getting rid of now.

Some people shed their lining more quickly and leave a completely clean uterus behind, while other people might have slower periods that are lighter in flow, but a little darker in colour. Either way, it’s totally fine.

Fire engine red

Pantone Red

Just when you were getting used to the dark-brown-OMG-almost-black, your period might switch things up and become bright, fire engine red. This is just your new uterine lining saying, “oh hey there”.

If you have a heavy period, it’s more likely that you’ll have bright red blood as your uterus lining is evacuating your body more quickly. Although still not as fast as you trying to undo that accidental ‘like’ of your crush’s Instagram from 72 weeks ago.

TL;DR? Here’s the important stuff:
  • It’s totally natural for your period to be different colours, from dark brown to bright, fire engine red. Darker blood tends to be older blood, which could be left over from your last cycle, or is just leaving your body more slowly.
  • Most people will find that their blood darkens again towards the end of their periods. This is just because the blood flow has slowed down.
  • Grey discharge could mean an infection, so it’s probably a good idea to call you GP.

Strawberry jam red

Strawberry

Those who have longer periods will probably be familiar with this deep, pinky-red colour. Basically, it just means you shed your lining at a consistently slower rate, so your period might never quite get to the fire-engine red stage.

Many people will also find that their blood darkens again towards the end of their periods. This is just because the blood flow has slowed down.

Grey?!

Grey Pantone

Willow is one filter your shouldn’t be seeing in your knickers – so if you find that you have grey clumps or grey discharge, it’s probably a good idea to head to your GP and have it checked out.

Somewhere, over the rainbow…

Your blood will rarely be one colour for the whole of your period – or even for the whole of the day. That change is totally natural, we promise. It’s just your body, doing its thing.

And when it comes to Instagram, Valencia is always a safe bet.

Image: Pantone/Katie Edmunds

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