What does your period blood colour mean? What does your period blood colour mean?

What does your period blood colour mean?

Have you ever observed the different hues of your menstrual flow? The colour of your period blood can provide valuable insights into your menstrual cycle and general well-being.

Understanding your menstrual cycle and its regular patterns is crucial. This knowledge lets you detect unusual changes, such as unfamiliar colours, unusual period durations, or unexplained spotting, and promptly seek medical attention if required.

Why does period blood change in colour?

It's typical for the colour of your menstrual blood to fluctuate during your period, which can vary from month to month. The blood you shed also varies, typically about 2-3 tablespoons for the entire period.

The colour of your menstrual blood can range from a vibrant red to a dark brown or even appear black. This colour variation is influenced by the time it takes for the blood to exit your body.

What do different period colours mean?

1. Bright red

On the days when your period is at its heaviest, your blood typically appears bright red due to the continuous flow of fresh blood. This brightness in colour is attributed to its swift passage out of your body, which allows minimal time for oxidation and darkening.

While some individuals may observe bright red blood throughout their entire period, it's more common for the blood to transition from bright red to a darker hue as the period progresses.

Heavy periods

Blood clots typically manifest during the most intense days of your menstrual flow and can vary in colour, appearing as either bright or dark red. These clots develop due to heavy bleeding when the blood flow rate surpasses the body's ability to manage, forming these clots.

The presence of menstrual clots is familiar, although they can also indicate the presence of heavy menstrual periods, known as menorrhagia.

It's advisable to seek medical attention if:

  • Your periods consistently involve heavy bleeding.

  • You experience dizziness, fatigue, or shortness of breath during your period.

  • Stomach pains are accompanied by substantial bleeding.

  • Your period extends beyond seven days.

  • You must change your tampon or pad every 1 or 2 hours.

  • Your blood clots exceed a size of 2.5cm (approximately the size of a 10p coin).

2. Dark red

Dark red period blood is a frequent occurrence, particularly in the morning. This is because when you've been in a reclined position for an extended period, the blood undergoes oxidation within the uterus before discharge.

Additional potential explanations for the presence of dark red period blood encompass:

Nearing the end of your cycle

Dark red blood might also be observed towards the conclusion of your period or at its onset when the blood flows more slowly, allowing for extended oxidation.

Postpartum bleeding

Your vaginal discharge, lochia, typically exhibits a dark red hue after childbirth. Like menstrual bleeding, lochia starts as bright red immediately after birth when the flow is heaviest and gradually darkens as the discharge lessens.

 

If you are breastfeeding, the bleeding may appear even redder and more substantial because hormonal changes stimulate uterine contractions.

3. Dark Brown or Black

Dark brown or black blood represents older blood in your menstrual cycle. Like dark red blood, you may observe brown or black blood at the start or conclusion of your cycle when it takes more time for the blood to exit your body.

However, brown discharge or spotting during pregnancy could indicate a miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy, where the fertilised egg implants outside the uterus, often in a fallopian tube. If you experience heavy bleeding accompanied by significant pain, it is crucial to promptly consult a midwife or doctor for a thorough examination and assessment.

4. Light pink

The appearance of pink blood is often the result of your cervical fluid mixing with your menstrual blood, creating a lighter hue. This occurrence is more commonly noticed on days when your menstrual flow is minimal, such as towards the conclusion of your period.

Additional potential explanations for the presence of pink blood encompass:

Anaemia

Anaemia, a condition stemming from insufficient iron levels, can also be a factor in developing pink-coloured menstrual blood. Iron is responsible for the red colour of blood, and when iron levels are low, the blood may appear lighter in colour.

Spotting

Spotting refers to minimal blood loss during your menstrual cycle or between periods. While spotting can manifest in various colours, it may occasionally appear light pink, primarily because of the lesser bleeding volume.

Spotting can result from various factors, including:

  • Ovulation

  • Minor vaginal wall tears during sexual activity

  • Sexually transmitted infections, such as chlamydia

  • Hormonal contraceptives

  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

  • Non-cancerous growths in the uterus, known as fibroids or polyps

  • Cervical, uterine, vulvar, or vaginal cancers

Low oestrogen

Pink vaginal discharge could also signal low oestrogen levels – and it could be a sign of perimenopause. ‘Low oestrogen levels may lead to pink discharge at different points of your cycle, and not necessarily when you'd expect a period,’ explains Dr Rosén.

 

‘Oestrogen helps to stabilise the uterine lining. If there’s insufficient oestrogen, the lining may break down and shed irregularly, leading to spotting.’

5. Orange

Orange menstrual fluid could occur when your menstrual blood combines with cervical fluid.

Alternatively, orange period blood or discharge may indicate an infection, such as bacterial vaginosis, or a sexually transmitted infection like trichomoniasis caused by a parasite.

If you notice orange-coloured blood, you must watch for other signs of infection, such as vaginal itching, an unusual odour, or discomfort.

6. Grey

Grey period blood typically serves as an indicator of an infection, commonly bacterial vaginosis. Identifying this blood colour might be challenging, so watching for other infection-related symptoms like an unpleasant vaginal odour, a burning sensation during urination, and itching in the vaginal area is advisable.

Bacterial vaginosis is typically managed with antibiotics, so consult a healthcare professional if you suspect this condition.

However, if you observe grey discharge along with blood clots or tissue, there's a possibility of a miscarriage. Additional miscarriage symptoms may include lower abdominal cramping and pain. It's essential to seek immediate medical attention in such cases.

When should I see a doctor about my period blood colour?

If you have concerns about any unusual discharge, it's advisable to consult with a healthcare provider. In addition to monitoring the colour of your menstrual blood, be attentive to alterations in the duration, texture, volume, and consistency of your menstrual flow.

Seek a medical appointment if you encounter the following:

  • The presence of new or unusual discharge.

  • Irregular periods are characterised by variations in length and heaviness from one month to another.

  • Experiencing bleeding after reaching menopause.

  • Missing three or more consecutive periods.

  • Noticing thick grey vaginal discharge.

  • Experiencing vaginal itching.

  • Developing a fever alongside unusual discharge.

If you require consultation or have concerns about your health, don't hesitate to contact Mobi Doctor. Our experts are here to provide guidance and support for your well-being. Contact us today for professional assistance.

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