Have you ever noticed that your menstrual blood is not always the same colour? You may have noticed that it sometimes changes from deep red, to a lighter pink, to a brownish hue. Lots of people don’t realise that the colour of your menstrual blood can tell you a lot about your health.
So what do the different menstrual blood colours and textures mean for your health, as well as what you should do if you notice something unusual. Knowing what is normal for you can help you recognise when something has changed. Different shades of menstrual blood can indicate a variety of health issues, so it’s important to pay attention to any changes you notice in your bleed.
By understanding how menstrual blood colours can affect your health, you can be more aware of potential signs of illness or health conditions. From minor problems to serious health risks, being mindful of any changes in your menstrual cycle can keep you informed and prepared.
What Is Menstrual Blood?
Menstrual blood is a combination of blood and tissue that flows out of the uterus each month when menstruating. This blood is vital for reproductive health as it helps rid the body of the lining of the uterus and prepare it for a possible pregnancy. While there is normal variation in the amount and flow of menstrual blood, paying attention to the colour of your menstrual blood can give you insight into your reproductive health.
In general, most menstrual blood is a bright red colour when it is fresh. This colour is caused by the presence of oxygen in the blood, which helps it stay bright red. As the menstrual blood begins to dry, it can take on a darker hue and may even become brown or black. This can be normal, but it is important to note any changes in the colour of your menstrual blood or how much you are bleeding.
The Different Colours of Menstrual Blood
The colour of your menstrual blood can vary depending on a few different factors. Here are the most common colours and what they can tell you about your health:
Bright red menstrual blood typically indicates that it is fresh new blood which has not been in the uterus for very long. It also indicates a steady flow. This colour is common in the middle of a woman’s cycle, and indicates that she is healthy and her hormones are working correctly.
Very rarely, bright red period flow can indicate signs of cervical cancer, though this would be coupled with other symptoms, like heavier periods, smelly vaginal discharge, loss of appetite and weight loss.
Dark Red or Brown:
Darker menstrual blood usually happens after the initial bright red blood has been in the uterus for a few days. As the blood oxidises and mixes with other substances it becomes a darker colour. This is usually normal, but if you notice a sudden change in the colour of your menstrual blood, it is important to keep an eye on it.
Brown or dark red blood can be an early sign of pregnancy, what is called implantation bleeding.
Light Pink or Brown:
Light pink or brown menstrual blood usually indicates that the bleeding is coming to an end. As the flow decreases, lighter coloured blood can come out. This is completely normal, and is an indication that the menstrual cycle is nearing its end.
At the beginning of your bleed, a light flow might mix with cervical fluid and come out pink. However, the pale shade could also be a sign of low oestrogen levels associated with certain hormonal birth control or peri-menopause. Pink blood can also indicate an iron deficiency which is a condition called Anaemia.
If you’re on the contraceptive pill, it also might explain a pink period, as it lowers estrogen levels. If you’re experiencing irregular pinkish spotting that isn’t linked to your period, it may be a sign of cervical cancer.
This can indicate the very start or very end of your period when the blood has taken a lot longer than usual to leave the uterus. So it could be old blood from your last bleed or just blood that has stayed in the body longer and can come out much darker and thicker than what you see at the beginning of the cycle.
It can also indicate a vaginal blockage but you should also notice a smelly discharge, itching or even difficulty peeing. If you are experiencing these symptoms or if black blood comes with a very heavy period and large clots, or intense pain, make an appointment to see your medical professional.
This is usually a sign of bacterial vaginosis, which is when there’s an imbalance in the bacteria in your vagina. See your medical professional!
Usually indicates period blood mixed with cervical fluid but also may indicate that there is a possible infection. See your medical professional!
Period blood that appears purple may be an indication you’re dealing with another condition like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis or ovarian cysts. It’s usually accompanied by heavy bleeding. See a Doctor for a proper diagnosis.
When To See Your Doctor
Brown discharge that happens outside of your period and accompanies a fever or pain can be a sign of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) or a sexually transmitted infection like gonorrhoea or chlamydia. Those with polycystic ovary syndrome (POS) a hormonal imbalance might see some brown spotting.
Orange, grey, or green discharge, especially if you’re not expecting your period, can be a sign of an infection like bacterial vaginosis or trichomoniasis.
In rare cases, brown or pale discharge with a foul odour can be a sign of cervical cancer.
And if you’re pregnant and notice light pink, brown, or bright-red bleeding or spotting, head to a doctor. While 20-30 percent of pregnant people experience some bleeding, discharge could be a sign of a miscarriage.
But if you’re not pregnant and notice a change in your menstrual cycle that lasts for more than a few cycles — whether it’s in colour, flow, or frequency — you should check with your medical professional. Otherwise, menstrual blood that varies in color isn’t a reason for concern.
What Colour Should Your Period Blood Be?
In general, the colour of your menstrual blood should be a bright red colour in the middle of your cycle. This indicates that the bleeding is coming from the uterus and is fresh. As the cycle progresses, the colour can become darker but it should not be a cause for concern unless it becomes alarmingly dark or lasts for an abnormal amount of time.
When To Seek Medical Attention
If you notice any sudden changes in the colour, texture, or amount of menstrual blood, it is important to seek medical attention. Unexplained changes in your menstrual cycle can be an indication of a serious underlying health issue or hormonal imbalance. Your doctor will be able to diagnose any potential medical problems and provide treatment if necessary. It is also important to seek medical attention if you experience any of the following symptoms: severe cramps, excessive bleeding, prolonged menstrual cycles, or a fever. In some cases, these symptoms can be indicative of a more serious health issue, and it is best to be seen by a doctor.
Tips For Managing Menstrual Health
Pay attention to your menstrual cycle. Track any changes you notice and be sure to communicate them to your doctor. This will help them diagnose any potential health issues before they become more serious. Be aware of any changes in the colour, texture, or amount of menstrual blood. If you notice that the colour of your menstrual blood has changed suddenly or if you are experiencing excessive bleeding, be sure to seek medical attention.
Make lifestyle changes that can improve your overall health and your menstrual health. This can include eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and getting adequate sleep. These changes can help reduce any symptoms of menstrual health issues and keep you in good health.
Knowing what the different colours of menstrual blood mean can help you identify changes in your menstrual cycle and seek treatment if necessary. Paying attention to the colour of your menstrual blood can provide insight into your reproductive health and help you recognise any potential health risks. By understanding how menstrual blood colours can affect your health, you can be more aware of potential signs of illness or health conditions.