Our periods are a great way to check in with how our bodies are doing. The color, texture, smell, and more gives us great insight into how our bodies are operating, allowing us to get more attuned and in touch with ourselves. Familiarizing yourself with this information will be helpful for making the most of your next OBGYN appointment.
Keep reading to discover what your period says about your health and become your own period whisperer.
What causes menstrual bleeding?
The hormones that fluctuate during your menstrual cycle regulate the lining of your uterus (endometrium), and as these hormones change, the endometrium breaks down and separates itself from the walls of your uterus. The blood and tissue from the break down and separation flow through the cervix and out through your vagina. That’s when you get period blood!
Period blood color meaning
Changes in your period blood color are normal. Different period blood colors can tell you anything from the age of the blood to how far into your period you are. While your overall health generally affects the length of your menstrual cycle and the duration of your period, here are some reasons why period blood may vary in color:
Bright red to dark red or dark brown
A healthy blood color ranges from bright red to dark red or brown, depending on how new the blood shed from the uterus is. Some people might describe their old period blood as black, but this can be a sign for something else (keep reading!).
Egg Implantation Spotting
Less likely, brown period blood could also be spotting from egg implantation – light bleeding that can occur in the very early stages of pregnancy.
Ovarian Cysts and Lochia
Lochia is natural bleeding that occurs after having a baby. It is mild-to-heavy and lasts around 6-8 weeks after birth, but you’ll know if you’ve given birth recently. This colour of period blood may also be a sign of ovarian cysts. Cysts on your ovaries can often go unnoticed, but if you’re worried or experiencing other symptoms, like pain during and after sex, or bloating of your abdomen, you should book in to see your doctor.
Pink to light pink or white
Low Estrogen Levels / Low Flow
You’ll most likely see pink to light pink blood at the beginning or end of your cycle, and this just means a low flow of fresh menstrual blood. If it’s the only blood you see over multiple periods, it’s a possible sign that your estrogen levels are low. Another symptom of low estrogen levels is vaginal dryness. If you notice both, we recommend you see your doctor.
Outside of your regular period cycle, pink spotting can be from mid-cycle (ovulatory) bleeding, this is quite common and normal for some people.
If you get pink vaginal discharge when you’re not on your period or outside of what’s typical of your body, it could be a sign of cervical cancer and you should get it checked out by your healthcare provider.
Grey to black
Older Period Blood
You may find yourself asking: Why is my period blood black? Similar to dark red or brown period blood, it usually means your period blood has reacted with oxygen and the majority of water in the blood has evaporated; i.e. it’s slightly older period blood that took a little longer to leave your uterus.
Grey, however, can also be a sign of an infection. Other signs of an infection include; irritation, pain, fever or foul odor. To be on the safe side, check in with your healthcare provider.
If it’s accompanied by heavy bleeding and grey tissue, it could be a sign of a miscarriage. There are multiple reasons why you might bleed during pregnancy, so it’s best to let a professional take a look at what might be happening.
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Period blood consistency and texture meaning
The texture and consistency of your period blood can be a sign of the health of your uterus lining. Period blood is also made up of endometrial tissue, so the texture varies as a result of this. Whether it’s thick or clumpy, or smooth and light – different flow viscosity (i.e. the thickness of menstrual blood) is normal throughout your period and no cause for alarm.
‘Normal’ period blood will differ from person to person, but you can typically expect a thicker consistency at the start of your period. Every menstrual cycle you experience will differ slightly. Some may experience bleeding to be more like a runny liquid at the beginning.
In most cases, a thinner, watery texture is a sign of light menstrual flow. If accompanied with a light pink period blood color, this could be a sign of stress or pre-menopause.
However, you should talk to your healthcare provider if you get it with a greyish discharge color, as it can be a sign of an infection or something more serious. If it feels out of the ordinary for your body, it’s always worth taking the time to talk to your doctor.
Clots/thick and clumpy
Clots and thick clumps in period blood are completely normal – especially on the heaviest days of a period. It’s particularly common with darker period blood color because it’s had time to build up, in comparison to quicker flows of fresh bright red blood.
When the period blood clots are a similar size to a golf ball or consistently around the size of a 5 pence coin, it’s time to talk to your doctor. It may be an indication of a miscarriage or a uterine fibroid – a small, non-cancerous growth inside the uterus.
Menstrual blood that is slippery and has a jelly-like texture is mixed with high levels of cervical mucus, which is totally normal.
Stringy period blood, usually dark red to dark brown in color, means older blood. It’s simply another type of bloody clot and is totally normal! But, if the stringy blood at the end of your flow happens to be heavier too, then it may need to be seen by a doctor, so book in an appointment.
How the blood changes during your period/is my period blood supposed to change colour?
Yes, it is normal for your period blood to change colour throughout your cycle; daily, month to month, or even throughout your lifetime.
During a period, the colour can vary in brightness, darkness, and hue, from bright reds to dark browns. This will depend on the flow and how new the period blood is. These often change on different days of your period e.g. on day one or two, your flow will be faster, the blood will be newer and therefore is likely to be bright red. Further into your period as your flow might slow or blood might be older, your period blood is likely to be darker in colour.
However, if you see a colour that isn’t usually what you’d expect, it’s always best to check in with your doctor, especially if you’re experiencing other symptoms that are out of the ordinary for you.
When to see your doctor
It’s important to know what is normal for your period so you can tell when something is out of the ordinary and just not right. If you’re experiencing any prolonged changes in your menstrual cycle or any of the following signs, reach out to your doctor:
- Bleeding between periods
- Significantly irregular cycles, varying in length; shorter than 24 days or longer than 38
- No period for over three months
- If you’re pregnant and notice bleeding
- If you’ve experienced menopause and are bleeding
- Unusual pain during your period
Period blood colors and textures vary throughout your cycle – this is completely normal! The most important thing is to pay attention to your body and the patterns of variations in your period. Minor changes in period color and texture don’t necessarily suggest a health problem, and you know what’s normal for your body.
While you here, why not check out our range of organic and natural period products?