Did you know that the color of your blood during your menstrual cycle can give you the inside scoop on the health of your body? This blog is about what period blood colors to expect and what colors you may want to talk to your doctor about. From hormonal changes to health conditions – we’ve got you and your FLOW covered at Aunt Flow.
This color is typically a sign of old blood and may happen at the beginning or end of your menstrual cycle. The blood appears to be black because it took its time to leave your uterus and has oxidized. It is very common for black blood first to be brown or dark red.
Sometimes though, some other symptoms happen along with black blood. Black blood, along with the following symptoms, can be a sign that there is a blockage in your vagina. If you are experiencing black period blood and the following symptoms, you may want to consult a medical professional:
- Difficulty peeing
- Discharge that smells bad
- Swelling or itchiness in or around your vagina
Like black blood, brown blood is usually a sign of old blood going through oxidation. You may notice brown blood at the beginning or end of your menstrual cycle. Typically, brown blood is older blood that has just taken some time to leave your uterus.
Brown discharge or spotting can also indicate an ectopic pregnancy or even a miscarriage. Also, early in pregnancy, when the fertilized egg attaches to the uterine wall, it can cause some spot bleeding. This bleeding can be brown in color at times due to oxidation. If you are pregnant or believe you may be pregnant – we recommend that you talk to your doctor if you are experiencing brown discharge or spotting.
Dark red blood is very common during the beginning and end of menstrual cycles. Like black and brown period blood, dark red is usually a sign that the blood has aged and oxidized while traveling out of the uterus.
After birth, menstruators will occasionally experience something called lochia – just a medical term for postpartum bleeding. Lochia may appear as dark red or brown vaginal discharge and typically will darken as the flow volume decreases. Not all menstruators will experience lochia, so it can be a bit unnerving for those who do. Lochia is typically not a cause for concern… it is just your body’s way of expelling extra tissue and blood from the uterus. However, if you are experiencing heavy bleeding after giving birth, we recommend you seek medical advice from your doctor just to be safe.
Bright red blood is one of the most common colors of period blood and generally indicates that the blood is fresh with a steady flow. Your period may start with bright red and then darken as you cycle through, or you may notice that your period blood color stays bright red through your entire cycle.
Pink blood, and pink spotting are also common during menstrual cycles, usually occurring when red period blood mixes with cervical fluid. Some menstruators who use estrogen-lowering hormonal birth control may notice that their flow is lighter with a pink hue during their period.
Pink discharge containing tissue, along with cramping during pregnancy, may be a sign of a miscarriage. We recommend talking to your doctor if you are pregnant and experiencing pink spotting with cramping.
Sometimes (just like with pink) period blood that mixes with cervical fluid can look orange. However, orange blood can also indicate an infection like bacterial vaginosis or trichomoniasis. If you have orange blood and are also experiencing itching, discomfort, and discharge that smells bad, you should consult your doctor.
Gray discharge is typically a sign of an infection called bacterial vaginosis. When you have bacterial vaginosis, there is more harmful bacteria in your vagina than good bacteria. You may experience itching, burning or pain when you pee, and a fishy odor along with gray discharge. You should talk to your doctor if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.
Why does my period blood stain things differently throughout my cycle?
Just like your period blood color can change throughout your cycle, the type and severity of stain due to menstrual blood can change due to the makeup of your menstrual blood.
Did you know that your period blood isn’t just blood? You might have noticed that period blood sometimes has a different texture than other blood does. This is because cervical fluid and uterine tissue combine with circulating blood to create menstrual blood. Period blood also stains differently because of its protein composition. There are over 3,000 different types of protein in menstrual blood – and 380 of those proteins are completely unique to menstrual blood. This means that throughout your cycle, your period blood may consist of different levels of circulating blood, cervical fluid and protein-rich uterine tissue – which is why period blood stains differently.
The more you know, with Aunt Flow!