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50 Shades Of Red (+ bonus colors): Let’s Talk Period Blood

Period blood is just one of those things. We all experience its technicolor hues, its weird alien-like textures, and from time to time, a scent that isn’t spritz worthy. But for years and years, women have been taught by their mothers and grandmothers to keep hush-hush about the specifics of all the activity down there. Good news—that’s changing.

We’ve discovered that society has been ovary-acting (lol sry), and that menstruation, along with all its little perks and magical undertones, isn’t actually all that upsetting. In fact, talking about it is empowering and important for women’s physical and mental health.

So what do all the different colors of period blood mean, anyway? And why does it matter? Well, lucky for you, I was in the mood to make some subcategories.

Bright Red, Almost Pink

This tropical-colored stuff represents the new kid on the block. If you only have bright red periods, that is totally normal. It just means that your uterus is shedding at a quicker rate. You go-getter, you!

Cranberry Red

My personal vintage of period blood is a rich cranberry color, again, very normal. I am a long haul, slow-moving period gal, so my color never hits that bright red. I have a lighter flow for a bit longer, and that’s just fine. I’ve always preferred train to air travel, anyway.

Very Dark Red, Almost Brown

Moving along the rainbow of menses, very dark period blood is a sign that the remnants of your last month’s period are getting their final say before your new uterine lining steps up to the plate. This is absolutely normal period behavior and is nothing to worry about.

Gray and Fishy

Gray period blood is the one type of period blood that your head should tilt at. This isn’t the most normal of colors and could indicate infection or a potential miscarriage. If it’s gray, it’s not ok (A+ mantra, no?), so check in with your doctor.

Some smell is normal with periods because your body is retaining a lot of moisture. A strong fishy smell, however, is not so great. Keep things dry and fresh with cotton panties, like these.


Consistencies of period blood can vary, too. When you’re having a heavier flow, it might be kind of like thick egg white jelly—that you definitely don’t want for breakfast. When you’re dealing with a quick, light flow, you’re more likely to see thin red wine-esque liquid (but again—less appealing).

The only consistency you should really worry about is if you see anything that looks like body tissue floating around in that bowl. It could be a sign of miscarriage. That’s when you will want to talk to a doctor.

Spotting—surprise bleeding in between periods—comes in the full variety of colors and consistencies:

  • Darker spotting could be a sign of low progesterone, which means your period is coming soon.
  • Bright red? If you’ve had some more rough or adventurous sex recently (meow) your cervix may still be recovering.

As with any health issue, if anything seems out of place, head into your local healthcare provider for a professional opinion. Don’t be subtle about your health—it’s time to make your well-being a conversation, and a mainstream one at that. It may be uncomfortable at first, but you are a badass who regularly bleeds for a week without dying, and if you can get through that, girl, you can get through anything.

Image: Kylma Viha /

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