50 SHADES OF... PERIOD BLOOD (and what each of them mean).

June 10, 2021

Period blood colours and what they mean

You've probably noticed that your period blood varies in colour - from period to period, or even during your cycle.

And whilst there aren't literally 50 different colours in the period blood rainbow, as such, it's likely that your period flow can vary in shade between anything from grey, to pink, to bright red, to black. Here's why your period changes colour, what each colour means and when you should get checked.

 

WHAT EXACTLY IS PERIOD BLOOD?

Period blood isn’t quite like the blood you might see if you cut your finger or graze a knee. Period blood (or 'flow') is a mix of blood, cervical fluid and tissue from the lining of your uterus that sheds around once a month and is expelled via the entrance (or exit?) of the vagina. It can often vary in consistency depending on where you are in your cycle; it can be anything from very thin and watery, to thick and a little clumypy (caused by what are known as ‘clots’).

WHAT COLOUR SHOULD PERIOD BLOOD BE?

Period blood can range from light pink to bright red, to darkish brown and even black – these are generally considered ‘normal’ – but if your period blood is orange, grey, it’s a sure sign that it’s time to get checked.

YOUR PERIOD BLOOD CAN CHANGE COLOUR THROUGHOUT YOUR CYCLE

You’ll probably notice that the colour of your period blood can vary throughout your cycle, or even from period to period. Colour changes in period blood are considered ‘normal’ and are generally nothing to worry about it (unless your flow is grey, orange, or off-smelling - get checked!).

Your flow might look and feel different at the beginning of your period as compared to the end (like, it might be bright red at the start and more brownish towards the end).

There are a few factors that can affect the colour of your period flow; like hormonal changes, your overall health, any underlying health conditions and even the length of time the flow has been in the uterus (i.e. flow that has been in there longer may appear darker).

LET'S TALK PERIOD BLOOD COLOURS AND WHAT THEY MEAN

Period blood colours and what they mean

Grey –usually a sign of bacterial vaginosis, which is when there’s an imbalance in the bacteria in your vagina. 👉 See a Doctor!

Orange –Usually indicates period blood mixed with cervical fluid, but also may indicate that there’s a possible infection. 👉 See a Doctor!

Pink – your period might be pink just before the onset, or as it’s ending (it’s generally a mix of period blood and cervical fluid) but it might also be caused by weight loss, an unhealthy diet or an underlying condition like 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 but DON’T STRESS, it could be a number of things. 👉 Get checked.

Bright red – When your period blood is bright red, that generally indicates that it’s pretty ‘fresh’ (i.e. it hasn’t been in the uterus long) and also indicates a steady flow. 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 – whilst brown or dark red period blood can be an early sign of pregnancy (what they call ‘implantation bleeding’), it’s also super common at the start or end of your period. It’s obviously important to distinguish between the two so if you’re unsure, see a Doc.

Black – this might indicate the very start or very end of your period, or, it could indicate a vaginal blockage; though this usually comes with smelly discharge, itching, or even difficulty peeing. If you’re not experiencing these symptoms, it’s likely just older blood that hasn’t made it’s way out yet. 

Purple - 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. 👉 Get checked.


DON'T FREAK OUT ABOUT CLOTS

Clots - those gel-like blobs you sometimes see in your period blood - usually occur when your period is a little heavier (like, the first day of your period) and are caused by blood coagulating in the uterus.

Clots in your period flow are quite common - if they're less than the size of an Aussie $1 coin (or a US quarter) and you're only experiencing them only occasionally, they're probably nothing to worry about. If they're on the larger side (more like the size of a 50c coin), are happening more frequently and accompanied by a very heavy period (like, you have to change your pad or tampon every hour or so) then it's best to get checked, as your clots may be caused by an underlying condition. But of course, if you're not sure, it doesn't hurt to see a trusted Doctor. 


WHEN TO SEE A DOCTOR

Some other things to look out for that may indicate an underlying condition are:

  • If your period blood or discharge is anything other than any shade of red, pink or brown – for example, if it’s orange or grey, as this may be a sign of infection
  • Changes in the length of your cycle (either short or longer than usual)
  • Any pain, abnormal bleeding or spotting in between your periods
  • Really heavy bleeding
  • Blood clots in your flow - the occasional one is fairly normal, but if it’s happening on the regular or if you’re not sure, get checked
  • If you’re pregnant and experience any kind of bleeding during your pregnancy, see your Doc ASAP.


Remember: you’re in tune with your own body more than anybody. If you feel like something’s a little off, or if you’re unsure about anything, contact a trusted Doctor and get checked!



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