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Periods / Claire Blackmore

What Does The Colour Of My Period Blood Mean?

Ever noticed the colour of your blood changes throughout your period? Like, the super-vibrant red of a cherry one day, then the not-so-nice dingy brown of an autumn puddle the next. Yep, us too. But what does it mean? Have we all… gone off!?

The answer is no (phew!) Apparently it all comes down to how oxidised the blood is. If you are light and only have a little bleeding, it takes its sweet time coming out of the vagina, which means it has longer to hang around (aka be exposed to air and oxidise) causing it to turn brownish red. GTK, right, but what about the rest of the period rainbow?

Here, we explain what colours to expect at different times, and more importantly, when something could be wrong…

Bright Red

You know that cherry colour we were talking about earlier? You should expect this shade in your tampon or pad (or knickers if you are unprepared) on the first two days of your period. Your flow tends to be heavier during day one and day two, meaning the blood leaves your uterus pretty swiftly and comes right out to say “HAAAY, I’M HERE!”, therefore it doesn’t have time to oxidise.

Dark Red

This is where we move on to more of a rusty shade. It’s certainly not pretty but indicates that your flow has slowed down. You may only be bleeding a moderate amount but it isn’t falling out of you like an evil waterfall. Rusty is therefore actually kind of good. Heck, we might even go as far to say we like rust. You may also come across this colour first thing in the morning because sleeping means lying down, therefore gravity hasn’t caused the blood to rush out. Sleeping is good. Yes, we definitely like rust.


Don’t freak out. Brown doesn’t mean anything bad. It’s either an indicator that you have ‘old blood’ left over from your last cycle that hasn’t yet come out, or that you are coming to the end of your period. It’s also more common in women who take birth control as their periods tend to be lighter.

Orange or Grey

To put it simply, a healthy period should be on the red to brown colour scale, so if your blood is orange or grey this could be cause for concern. If you have other symptoms at the same time – burning, itching and even abdominal cramping – book an appointment with your GP.


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