By now, you’ve probably got your period routine down. You’ve got pads and tampons stashed away in every conceivable corner so you’re never caught off guard, you have at least a seven day supply of your fave period craving snacks, you’re all over the painkiller situation and your hot water bottle is ready to go at all times. And then summer comes along and totally throws your fine-tuned coping strategy.

So, what are you supposed to do when the temperatures are through the roof and you don’t want to be within ten feet of a hot water bottle? No sweat, we’ve got you covered.

Stay hydrated

Staying hydrated is important all year round but it’s even more important when you’re dealing with a summer/period double threat. It will help to combat that tired, weary feeling we all get, plus it totally helps with bloating. I know; how will drinking more water help matters? But it works by encouraging your body to flush out all that extra water it just loves to hold onto.

Do some (gentle) exercise

We’re not talking heading out for a marathon, because, really, who has the energy when the sun’s blazing? But when you’re ‘hugging a hot water bottle while quietly whimpering’ game plan goes out the window, gentle exercise is your friend. Honestly. It’s the perfect period pain remedy because it gets your blood flowing which cuts down on cramps.

If that’s not enough of a reason, it’s a great excuse to go outside and be with your own kind. After all, there’s only so much PLL a girl can watch. So, do some not-too-strenuous yoga, a few laps in the pool or just grab your mates and head out for a walk in the sunshine. It might take a whole lot of will power to get up and get active but you’ll feel so much better once you have!

Be prepared

A sudden bout of unexpected sunshine is always a green light for spur of the moment adventures, but the thought of getting caught out can definitely put a dampener on your wanderlust. There’s no need to back out of all the fun, though. Sure, being on your period isn’t high on your summer to-do list but your period is going to go ahead and do its thing anyway, so you may as well do yours. A little prep is all you need.

Firstly, stock up on pads and tampons so you’re covered for a full day. Next up, check out the beach/pool/ice cream factory (hopefully) online and scout out any toilets and cafes so you know exactly where to head when you need to change. Lastly, show your period whose boss and live the summer dream.

Take a break

You don’t want your period to cramp (sorry) your style and spoil your summer fun but it’s totally fine to take a break too. If the thought of peeling yourself off the sofa to go and melt under the 30 degree sun makes you want to hide in the nearest freezer, be kind to yourself and do exactly what you feel like doing. Want to sit directly in front of the most powerful fan in your house while binging on Netflix? Do it. Want to online shop and crunch on ice cubes? Go ahead.

Keep cool

Why does being on your period make it feel ten times hotter? You’re already saddled with the unholy trinity that is cramps, bloating, mood swings and now you’re hotter than the sun. Get on top of that situation ASAP and build yourself a keep-cool armoury. You’ll need cooling spray, a mini fan, a bottle of iced water and the breeziest dress you own.

Wear what you want

In winter, a long jumper and unbuttoned jeans is the epitome of period chic; warm, comfy and bloat-friendly. Fast forward to the summer holidays and it’s not quite that easy when wearing literally any clothes at all feels like a trip to the seventh circle of hell. This is where you need to remember the rules: there are no rules. If your stomach feels like it’s trying to escape your waistband and you don’t feel 100% confident about showing skin right now, go for an airy kaftan and pretend you’re at Coachella. But equally, if you’re all about crop tops; don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t wear the hell out of them. There’s no judgement; only cute summer style.

Treat Yourself

If you’re dealing with your period during a heat wave, you’re basically Wonder Woman. Give yourself a round of applause for being a fearless survivor and treat yourself with immediate effect. It doesn’t matter if it’s a fresh nail varnish shade, a giant ice cream, a new book or a lazy afternoon, you’ve earned it.


Image: Getty

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.  


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


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 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

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in your best knickers… oh hey! Discharge.

This totally wasn’t on the list

Don’t worry if you didn’t get the message. Discharge is a bit like the middle sibling of puberty – it shows up every day and does a great job, but often gets ignored. However at betty, we pay attention to both middle siblings (hey guys) and every weird and wonderful change happening in your body right now.

Like discharge.

There’s a party in my pants

Discharge is a natural mucus that is produced from your cervix. Formed from normal bacteria and fluids, and it’s your vagina’s way of keeping itself clean. We know, if only bedrooms did that.

You normally start producing discharge about six months to a year before your first period, so its appearance is a bit of a ‘hello!’ from your reproductive system, letting you know that changes are happening down there.

TL;DR? Here's the important stuff:
  • Discharge is your vagina's self cleaning system. You’ll probably start producing it about six months to a year before your first period.
  • The amount of discharge and the consistency you produce will vary throughout your menstrual cycle.
  • If you notice a dramatic change (it looks grey, green or cottage cheesy) it might be a good idea to see your GP.

How much discharge should there be?

The amount of discharge you produce varies through the stages of your menstrual cycle. Generally you produce around a teaspoon of discharge a day, although at some times, like before ovulation, this could be quite a lot more. Around this time discharge can change texture too, becoming less like a liquid and more like a gloopy gel. Or for the sci-fi fans among you, ghost slime.

If you want to, you can wear a pantyliner (a thin pad) around that time of your cycle to absorb everything. Or not. You do you. Discharge comes out easily in the washing machine (woo!), so it’s really about what makes you feel more comfortable.

Anything else I should be looking out for?

Some variation throughout the month is perfectly natural, but a sudden change in your discharge could be a sign that something is a bit off – especially if you notice it looking grey or green, if it has a lumpy consistency like cottage cheese, if it starts to have a strong smell or if there’s suddenly a lot more than usual.

In that case, who you gonna call?


No, your GP. Relax.

Image: Katie Edmunds

Ahh the wonderful world of vaginas. If you have one of your own then you’re probably pretty familiar with the way things work down there, at least on a basic level – but get ready to discover that your vajayjay is WAY more magical than you ever even realised.

They’re not just there for sex and babies y’know. Vaginas have talents and abilities that even most superheroes would be jealous of, so it’s about time that we finally give our girl parts the credit they deserve.

Here’s 10 reasons that your very own humble vagina is aaall kinds of amazing tbh.

1. They’re self-cleaning machines.

It’s not quite a ticket to cutting out showers for the rest of your life, but did you know that vaginas are particularly skilled when it comes to keeping themselves clean?

If you’ve ever noticed an odourless discharge in your undies (totally normal, by the way), that’s the clever stuff which is keeping everything clean and healthy up in there.

Because of this Britain’s Got Talent-worthy skillset, you should pretty much leave your vagina to do its own thing when it comes to cleaning. Generic body products could upset your pH balance and mess up your good and bad bacteria levels. So ditch the fragranced soaps and shower gels, and let your vagina SHINE all by itself.

2. They’re sensitive souls. 

If you’ve ever been accused by someone of being a little bit sensitive when it comes to life, it’s not necessarily a bad quality – especially if you happen to be a vagina. Vaginas are seriously sensitive souls.

Did you know that your clitoris alone contains over 8 THOUSAND nerve endings? Pretty impressive, especially seeing as that’s more than anywhere else in the entire human body – and a penis only has half of that. Ha.

3.They have colour changing powers. 

Okay, so your vagina probably isn’t gonna be magically transforming into a rainbow, holographic or unicorn-coloured creation any time soon (although fingers crossed), but across womankind they can come in all sorts of different colours depending on your race and skintone.

Some might even change colour a little bit over time as you get a bit older or have a baby, which is pretty cool. They’re basically your very own, personal chameleon.

4. They can grow and expand like WOAH. 

When a woman’s digging a romantic scenario (or ‘aroused’ if you want to be proper about it), her vagina will physically expand through something known as ‘vaginal tenting’. Not exactly the most romantic term in the world, but still.

If you want the technical knowledge behind this one, it’s all to do with muscle tension. So if you’re experiencing a high amount of muscle tension, it’ll draw your uterus upwards, creating more lengthways space in the vagina. How crazy is that?

5. They can send you secret messages. 

Alright, so it’s not necessarily penning you a hand written love letter or leaving a loveheart behind on a steamed window, but your vagina does still pass on some secret messages nonetheless.

It might sound crazy, but your vagina can actually communicate with you to tell you when your period is due, for example, when you’re fertile and even when there’s something wrong with your body, if you get to know your discharge well enough. Any changes in texture, colour or smell could mean that you need a trip to the doctors. CLEVER.

6. They come in all shapes and sizes. 

Even if you hunted through a whole drawer full of vaginas (what an image), you’d struggle to find one that looked exactly like yours. Every single one is unique, and the chances are that your own will look totally different compared to pretty much every gal you know.

As well as the overall appearance of the vulva (that’s the outer, visible part), the insides also vary massively from gal to gal. Vaginal canals can be long, short, wide narrow… but whatever they look like, they’re still pretty awesome, and you absolutely shouldn’t ever worry about it looking ‘weird’.

7. They can show you a real good time. 

Don’t worry, we’re not gonna get too X-rated here – but your vagina is basically a one stop shop for feeling amazing. As well as those 8,000 handy nerve endings that we mentioned earlier, the labia, the vaginal opening and everything else going on down there mean that it’s basically like having Thorpe Park in your undies.

Like Thorpe Park it might seem daunting at first, but once you’ve got to know your way around, you’ll be a thrill-seeking convert (and probably want to eat doughnuts after).

8. It’s really good at NOT losing things. 

Ever been slightly paranoid that you could lose a tampon up in there? Gah, we’ve all thought it, but luckily your vagina isn’t quite the vacuous black hole that you’re imagining – it’s actually REALLY good at specifically not losing stuff, thanks to the cervix acting as a block.

However, it is technically possible for a tampon to kinda… slip out of reach if you insert it too high up. If you find that ever does happen, all you have to do is squat and it should be easy to wiggle it back into the right place.

9. Its name literally means ‘sheath for a sword’. 

The word ‘vagina’ itself comes from a Latin root that literally means ‘sheath for a sword’.

Although NB, swords are optional. You’re a warrior all by yourself.

10. They can literally pop out a human being. 

And of course, last but not least, let’s not forget the fairly important fact that vaginas are solely responsible for BIRTHING THE HUMAN RACE ITSELF. That teeny tiny masterpiece down there, along with some help from the contraction and expansion of its fancy flexible tissues, means that a fairly massive baby can slide right on out if you give it a few hours.

And by some miracle, it then still returns to what was pretty much its pre-pregnancy size, like a total champ. Let’s have a round of applause for the humble vagina please, guys.


Image: Amber Griffin

Periods, discharge, pipes and parts… there’s a lot going on down there. But how much do you really know? Are you a vagenius, or just a bit of a twat?

Let’s find out!

What colour should your period be?

How does an egg get from an ovary to your uterus?

How are your eggs stored?

How many holes are there down there?

How much blood do you lose during an average period?

What does discharge do?

What's a labia?

What actually *is* a period?

How many periods does an average woman have in a lifetime?

My family used to have a dog called Tilly. She was a black cocker-spaniel who liked to bark at inanimate objects, and lie on your feet when you were trying to fall asleep.

Tilly also had a habit of eating the crotch out of women’s underwear. Used women’s underwear.

Most dogs like to chew on bones or rope toys or table legs, but not Tilly. Nothing was as delicious to her as the crotch of women’s underwear. She felt about lady pheromones the way I feel about pastries – that they’re an appropriate snack at any time of day or night, no matter who made them or how long they’ve been sitting around.

And so, Tilly would tip over laundry baskets, rifle through overnight bags and sneak into bathrooms while unsuspecting victims were showering and emerge, triumphant, with knickers in her mouth.

One weekend, when my brother and his girlfriend had come back from university to stay, I caught Tilly happily trotting through the corridor with a pair of bright pink pants in her teeth.

Oh. My. God.

I can see them so clearly in my head, over a decade later. Hot pink, with lace around the top. I wrestled them out of Tilly’s mouth, which was not an easy feat. A bit like taking a teddy from a toddler, or an iPhone from Kim Kardashian.

Thinking the horror was over, I glanced down at my prize and… wait, “WHAT THE HELL IS THAT WEIRD WHITE STUFF? Where did it COME from?!”

Little did I know, I was about to find out exactly where it came from.

What felt like the next day, but I’m sure actually wasn’t, I took off my knickers and saw the trademark white goo of a grown-up vagina. Discharge. I had discharge.

In the absence of facts, I logically concluded that this was a disease and my brother’s girlfriend had given it to me. I never liked my brother’s girlfriend as much after that (not even after I learned that she was in no way responsible for temporarily ruining my underwear).

It turns out that discharge isn’t a disease at all – it’s a totally natural fluid produced by your clever, self-cleaning cervix – and it definitely isn’t passed down to you from your older brother’s girlfriends. They are a completely innocent party in this.

Hungry dogs, though, you sometimes need to keep an eye on.

Image: Katie Edmunds

We love hearing first period stories. When we went to the Edinburgh Fringe we asked Vivienne Acheampong, Ayesha Hazarika and Pernilla Holland for the lowdown on their first period, and they were only too happy to give us the bloody details.

We also asked them how they knew their periods were coming and what they craved on their period. Watch ’til the very end for Vivienne’s amazing story about what happened when a tampon got stuck inside her at a party…


Next Tuesday!

Just kidding. If only things were that simple.

The truth is, your first period can be a bit like a surprise party. There are clues that something is going on… a few of your friends seem to know something you don’t… maybe your mum is being coy, you have a feeling deep in your stomach that you can’t identify, or you want to stuff your face with cake.

And there are times when you are 100% sure it’s about to happen… only to find no one is actually hiding behind the sofa at all.


So if not next Tuesday, when?

The average age for your first period is between 11 and 13 – though some people get their period as young as eight, others will be more like 16. And either way, it’s all totally fine. It just depends on your body and how quickly it develops.

If you find you’re early to the party, don’t worry, it just gives you extra time to get the hang of things. And if you’re running a little behind, that’s not a big deal either. You’ve heard the term ‘fashionably late’, right?

So it’s not a race – it’s a waiting game?

Well, yes. But not everyone likes surprises, and helpfully there are signs to look out for that your period is on its way (no, not a text).

Usually your breasts will begin growing first. Those little bumps that might have formed under your nipples are breast buds, and periods generally show up around two years after those bad boys arrive on the scene

TL;DR? Here’s the important stuff:
  • The average age for your first period is between 11 and 13, but it could be as young as eight or as late as 16.
  • Clues that your period might be on its way include breasts growing, discharge in your pants and body hair – but everyone is different.
  • Starting a little later is no big drama, but you can chat to your GP if you are worried.

And about a year after your boobs begin to grow, you might find that you start producing discharge. This is your body’s way of letting you know that things in your uterus are kicking into gear, and most people find that their periods arrive between six months to a year after this.

During this time you might also notice armpit hair and pubic hair making an appearance – another little clue that periods are incoming. But remember, everybody’s body is different. Did we mention that already?

Is there anyone that can tell me?

You can try a psychic if that’s your thing… but it’s probably easier to talk to your mum (or sister or auntie) about when they got their period, if you can. It’s pretty likely you’ll get your period around the same time she got hers.

And apart from that…

Just try to be patient. If you get to 16 and you haven’t had your first period yet, it might be a good idea to chat to your GP about what might be holding things up. But whether you get your first period at eight or 18, it’s nothing to freak out about.

And like any other surprise party, we say there should probably be cake.

How long should my period last?

We all know that an hour of maths homework feels longer than an hour of hanging out with your friends. It’s science or, er… something.

It’s the same phenomenon that can make a day on your period feel like a week. But while it feels like forever, how long is it actually meant to last?

Can this be over already?

When you first start menstruating, there will probably be some variation in how long your period lasts, but it could be anywhere between one day and 10 days. It’s also likely that your period will be a bit irregular, stopping and starting and stopping and starting more times than Ross and Rachel in Friends.

When your cycle gets more regular, you will have a better idea of how long your period will last.

Okay, but what’s the average?

Generally, periods last for anywhere from two to seven days. Once your uterus has stopped jumping up and down with all the excitement of puberty, things should become fairly consistent. So, if you’re one of the #blessed people who have three-day periods, it’s likely they’ll stay that way for a while.

TL;DR? Here's the important stuff:
  • When you first start menstruating, there will probably be some variation in how long your period lasts, but it could be anywhere between one day and 10 days.
  • When your cycle gets more regular, you will have a better idea of how long your period will last.
  • Generally, periods last for anywhere from two to seven days.

We know it can feel like your period is going on forever, but that doesn’t mean you’ve drawn the short straw in the uterus lottery. Those who have periods for three days might find they’re more intense, like a 100m sprint. Whereas those who have a full week or more might find that their period is longer but lighter (you know where this is going), like a mile-long jog.

Either way, you’ll find out what’s the usual deal for you. And remember – sometimes 10 is better than one…


Ever had a rumbly tummy during your period? Or — to be explicit — once a month, do such horrible things happen in your bowels that you’re surprised your toilet doesn’t beg you for mercy?

The good news is you’re not alone. The better news is you don’t have to put up with it. In this week’s Ask Dr Yaz, she takes us through the different unpleasant symptoms you might get on your period and what you can do about that.

If you’ve got a question for Dr Yaz, email and she might answer it in a future video.