Okay, so I know we were all taught about our periods and what to expect in Year Six, but that was a really long time ago, and if your memory is anything like mine, chances are, you may have forgotten some of the most basic and essential information about your cycle too.
So recently, when my period began visiting me with the kind of reckless abandon of someone with absolutely zero social skills, I began pondering the most basic questions about my period and realised that despite having been given a rundown when I was pre-pubescent, I actually knew close to nothing at all.
Thankfully, Dr Dasha Fielder filled me in the ‘hows’ and ‘whys’ and ‘what to look fors’ of your period. And it turns out, it’s basically your very own, NBN-free, WebMD in your pants.
Great news. Vagina lipstick is here to solve all of your period blood woes. Post continues…
Light flowing, bright red blood.
“Throughout the first few days of the period, the blood tends to be bright red and fairly light bleeding,” Fielder says. Generally, it’s like a polite heads up on the bleeding tsunami that is about to come your way, if you will. But should this blood appear inconsistently outside of your cycle in a spotting manner, it could mean something different completely.
“Any type of spotting that is outside of the normal, expected period cycle – be it bright red blood or brownish blood – is not normal. The spotting could be occurring for a number of reasons, but a woman should see her GP about it when it occurs, no matter her age,” Fielder says.
Heavy flowing, bright red blood (potentially with clots).
For most, a heavy flow can be expected to arrive by days two and three, Fielder says. It's during this time that some women may also see clots and need to change their pads and tampons more frequently.
"Sometimes during this time women can get quite frightened by how much blood they are seeing, but it is still quite a small amount, even though it may seem quite heavy," Fielder says.
It is also during this time that, if you suffer from it, cramping is likely to be at its worst.
"Cramping occurs as the result of the cervix having to slightly open up to excrete the blood," Fielder says. "It's essentially a mild contraction of the uterus as the blood comes out, and generally, the cramping will be worse at the times when the period is at its heaviest."
Light flowing, brown blood.
"Days four to days seven it can be quite a light flow," Fielder says, adding, "the blood is likely to be a little bit more brown," which is a good thing because it marks your uterus' evacuation nearing its end.
If your period is relatively heavy until the very end, though, Fielder says not to worry too much. "Some women will have heavier bleeding, other women will have lighter bleeding, and most women can only compare to themselves, so it can be a tricky thing to measure." In other words, you do you, girl, and if something changes, see your doctor.
Light flowing, dark brown mucusy blood.
Congrats, girl. You've made it to the end of your cycle. See you again in the near future.
Weird smells, serious pain and inconsistent bleeding.
Be it the ham in your fridge or the liquid emitting from your body, sometimes, things just don't smell right. But according to Fielder, "odour should not change during your period, so if things are smelling unpleasant you should see your GP once the cycle has ended." Okay, noted.
Other period-related reasons to see your doctor also include a heavy change in bleeding (if you're having to change your tampons or pads every hour or less), a change in the regularity of your cycle, and severe pain or cramping that cannot be alleviated by analgesia.
So basically, if you keep your friends close and your period knowledge closer, things should remain all good under the hood.