Menstrual blood flow isn’t the same every time you have your period. The blood can also look different over the course of the same period. Your period blood may be almost black at the start of the period and turn bright crimson later. While most of the menstrual blood color variations are normal and nothing to worry about, they can sometimes indicate a serious health issue.
Let us read about what different menstrual blood colors mean and when you should see your doctor.
Black period blood
You may see black menstrual blood during the beginning or end of your periods. This blood, which resembles coffee grounds, is old blood that has taken longer to leave the uterus and has oxidized. When the flow is less, the blood may take longer to leave the uterus at the beginning of the period. This blood can also be the leftover blood from your last period.
Sometimes, black blood can also mean that there is a blockage in your vagina. Other symptoms also accompany Black blood linked to this problem. These include –
- Itching and swelling around your vagina
- Foul-smelling discharge
- Difficulty in urinating
Brown Period blood
Like black blood, brown period blood is also a sign of old menstrual blood. It appears at the beginning or towards the end of your period. This blood has not had as much time to oxidize as black blood.
Brown blood is also linked with pregnancy. Brown blood spotting is one of the early signs of that you are pregnant, and the doctors refer to it as implantation bleeding.
Women also notice a brown discharge in the case of ectopic pregnancy, where the egg implants in the fallopian tube instead of the uterus.
While miscarriage is associated with bright red blood, some women also experience a missed miscarriage. During this kind of miscarriage, the fetus stops developing but does not pass out of the uterus for four weeks. Women may experience brown spotting instead of heavy bleeding.
The bleeding that women experience for the first few weeks after delivery is known as lochia. Though it is initially bright red, it turns dark brown after a few days (1).
Dark red period blood
You may notice the dark red color of menstrual blood when you wake up in the morning or after getting from the bed after some time. This blood has turned darker because it has been lying in the uterus for some time but had still not oxidized and turned brown.
You may also notice this blood towards the end of your period when your flow slows down. As the older part of the uterine lining gets shed and the flow slows down, you may notice this older blood. The bleeding that women experience after delivery also contains clots. This bleeding appears dark red for the first few days and then becomes darker.
Bright red period blood
Bright red menstrual blood means that the blood is fresh and is flowing quickly. Your period may start with bright red blood, which will turn dark red or brown as the flow slows down.
You may also notice bright red blood when you have cramps. Your uterus contracts when you have cramps, which may lead to a heavier flow of red blood. Bright red blood is also linked to some health issues. These include –
Bleeding of any color during the pregnancy is a cause for alarm. Bright red bleeding during pregnancy can be a sign of miscarriage, and you must immediately get it checked by your doctor.
Some sexually transmitted infections(STIs) like chlamydia and gonorrhea may lead to bleeding, which is bright red. If you notice bright red blood before your period starts, get it checked.
Polyps or fibroids
These benign growths in the uterus can cause bright red blood flow between the periods or heavier flow during your periods. Other symptoms include pain and pressure (2).
Bright red bleeding can also be a sign of cervical cancer in some rare cases. It is usually accompanied by other symptoms like foul-smelling vaginal discharge, unexplained weight loss, pain in the lower back, pelvis, and legs, bleeding after sex, and heavier periods.
Pink period blood
You should not worry about the pink period blood. When period blood mixes with cervical fluids, it turns pink, and you notice pink spotting. You may notice pink spotting during the beginning and the end of your period.
Sometimes you may develop small tears in the vagina or cervix during sex. Blood from these tears can mix with vaginal fluids to create a pink discharge. Some other situations that may lead to pink discharge are –
Low estrogen level
Estrogen plays a vital role in stabilizing the uterine lining. If the estrogen levels in the body come down, you may shed your uterine lining throughout your menstrual cycle. This process could lead to pink spotting. Some kinds of birth control pills and perimenopause can lower your estrogen levels.
You can also see pink spotting during ovulation. When blood from the uterus mixes with cervical fluid, it may appear pink.
A gush of pink fluid from the vagina can be a sign of miscarriage.
After four days of delivery, your lochia may appear pink.
Orange period blood
Your period blood may have an orangish tint when it mixes with the cervical fluid. Orange blood is also associated with implantation spotting.
However, if it had a different texture or smell, it may be an STD or STI symptom. You must visit you, doctor, as soon as possible. Bacterial vaginosis or trichomoniasis could also lead to symptoms like itching and foul-smelling discharge.
Grey period blood
A grey discharge from the vagina could be a sign of bacterial vaginosis. This condition occurs when there is an imbalance between the good and the harmful bacteria in the vagina. The symptoms of bacterial vaginosis include itching in the vagina, pain, or burning while urinating and foul-smelling vaginal odor.
If you observe grey discharge during the later stages of pregnancy, it may indicate a miscarriage. Contact your doctor immediately.
Changes in texture
The color of your period blood can change from black or brown to red during the period. Similarly, the consistency of your menstrual flow can vary depending on how much uterine lining is mixed in the blood. Menstrual blood is thicker than usual blood because of the tissue it contains.
While smaller clots in this blood are not a cause for concern, if you see larger clots, you should visit your doctor. Larger lumps or clots may be a sign of fibroids. Fibroids are benign growth on the lining of the uterus.
Large blood clots can also indicate an ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage.
If your menstrual blood is extra thin and is flowing quickly from the uterus, you may be suffering from menorrhagia. Menorrhagia can lead to complications like anemia or chronic fatigue.
When should you visit your doctor?
Changes in your menstrual blood can be a symptom of several health conditions. Most of these problems are not serious and do not require medical help. However, you must visit your doctor under the following conditions –
- If your regular periods have suddenly changed to irregular
- If you bleed for more than seven days between periods
- If you bleed so heavily that you soak through your pad or tampon is two hours
- If you suffer from severe pain during periods
- If you have gone through menopause and start bleeding again
- If you haven’t had your periods for more than three months
The color of your menstrual blood and the amount of blood lost during periods are good indicators of your health. The color of your menstrual blood can change during your period, and so can the consistency. However, in some cases, the change in color can indicate a health problem like fibroids, low estrogen levels, and even vaginosis. So, it is essential to learn what is normal and what isn’t when it comes to your period blood color.