What does your period blood colour mean?
What does your period blood colour mean?
Menstruation has been surrounded by secrecy and taboos for a long time, making it uncomfortable for lots of us to discuss openly. But times are changing! At Fluus, we want to have conversations surrounding menstruation to help break stigmas and allow people to feel empowered with knowledge about their period. One thing that can bring up all sorts of questions is the colour of our menstrual blood. With the help of expert obstetrics and gynaecology doctor Dr Emily Leung, we’re going to talk about the colour of our period blood, helping us understand something which quite frankly isn’t talked about enough.
In this article we’ll be covering:
- Why does period blood change colour?
- What colour should period blood be?
- What do the colours of your period blood mean?
- Understanding your menstrual health
Why does period blood change colour?
Firstly, it’s completely normal for it to change. The changes in colour occur because of the age of the menstrual flow and how much it's exposed to oxygen in the air.
When the blood is fresh and coming out quickly, it's usually bright red. According to Dr. Emily, "Healthy period blood can be a spectrum of pink to red to brown. Generally, the heaviest flow in the first few days is red." However, as it lingers in the uterus and vaginal canal, it may appear darker or even brownish due to the breakdown of red blood cells and exposure to air.
Another thing that can affect colour is the presence of a uterine lining. Dr Emily points out that when period blood mixes with cervical secretions, it can look paler, pinkish, or even watery. If the uterine lining sheds more slowly, the blood may mix with it, which can lead to it having a thicker, clotted appearance, and can also make it appear darker.
So, there you have it – a simple explanation of why period blood can change colour during your cycle. It's all perfectly natural.
What colour should period blood be?
There's no one "correct" colour for everyone, as Dr Emily explains.
During your menstrual cycle, you might see a whole range of colours, from bright red to a darker, almost brownish hue. Sometimes, it can even show off shades of pink or orange.
It’s important to keep an eye out for any sudden or weird changes in colour. Dr Emily gives us a heads-up, saying, "Any strong odour, orange or greyish colouring should prompt screening for infection." It's always important to pay attention to these signs.
For instance, if your blood looks very light or pale, it could be suggesting low flow or anaemia. On the other hand, if it appears excessively dark or black, it might mean older blood that hasn't been expelled efficiently.
If you ever notice any sudden, dramatic changes in colour, it's best to reach out to a healthcare professional. They can give you the right advice and make sure everything's all good.
So, just be mindful of your body and its signals during your period.
What do the colours of your period mean?
The colours of your period can actually tell us a bit about your menstrual health, but remember, everyone's body is unique.
Now, it's completely normal to see some colour variations during your period. But if you notice any drastic changes, it's a good idea to look into it a bit further.
For instance, changes in period blood colour and heavy clotting might be linked to hormonal imbalances, especially when there's more oestrogen than progesterone. This can mess with the growth and shedding process of the uterine lining, leading to more clot formation.
All in all, it's about understanding your body and keeping an eye on any significant changes. Part of this is understanding what different colour blood can mean, which is what we’re going to look further into now.
Bright red blood colour is the most common and expected colour during the first few days of your period. It means fresh blood is actively flowing from the uterus. This colour typically signifies a healthy menstrual cycle.
Bright red period blood is only a cause for concern if you’re experiencing extremely heavy bleeding called menorrhagia or really heavy bleeding outside of your period (metrorrhagia) also known as spotting.
Sometimes, a heavier flow could be linked to the presence of a benign polyp or fibroid inside your uterus. These growths can lead to bright red bleeding between your menstrual cycles. But don't panic! These growths are usually harmless, but it's always best to get checked by a healthcare professional, just to be on the safe side.
As your period progresses, you may notice that the colour of blood gets darker, like a deep red or maroon shade.
This colour can mean that the blood has taken more time to exit the body and may be older, as when blood is oxidised it can give a dark red or sometimes brown appearance. Dark red blood is generally considered normal and may occur at the beginning or towards the end of your period.
Pink or light red:
Light red or pinkish blood colour could mean that your flow is light or that you are in the early or late stages of your period. Lighter shades may also indicate diluted blood mixed with cervical mucus.
Light red or pinkish-coloured blood may indicate low oestrogen levels. Oestrogen plays a key role in the menstrual cycle, and insufficient levels can lead to irregular periods or even amenorrhea (absence of menstruation). It's always a good idea to consult a healthcare professional if you have concerns.
Much like dark red blood, brown period blood is older blood that has taken longer to exit the body. This colour is usually seen both at the beginning and towards the end of your period when the flow is lighter.
While it is generally considered normal to experience brown blood during these times, it's essential to be mindful if you consistently notice it throughout your cycle or between periods. In such cases, it might indicate underlying hormonal imbalances, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or endometriosis.
If you find yourself experiencing consistent brown blood between periods or have concerns about your hormonal health, seeking medical advice is important.
Black menstrual blood – it's not as common, but it can show up sometimes. This colour usually means it's older blood that took its sweet time to leave your body. It might be because of a slower flow or the presence of clots.
If you consistently see black blood during your period, or if you're experiencing other symptoms like severe pain or an unusual odour, it's a good idea to reach out to a medical professional. They can give you the right advice and make sure everything's okay.
Grey or off-white:
Dr. Emily warns that grey or off-white discharge can indicate an infection, like bacterial vaginosis (BV) or even sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
If you notice any unusual colours, especially with a foul odour, it's crucial to seek medical attention. The good news is that many STIs are treatable, but it's essential not to wait around if you suspect something's up. If left untreated for a long time, STIs can lead to some other health issues.
So, don't hesitate to reach out to a healthcare professional if you have any concerns.
Period Blood Colours: Understanding Your Menstrual Health
Understanding your period blood colour can provide insights into your menstrual health, although it's important to note that everyone's experience is unique, and as Dr Emily points out, some people may fall outside the typical ranges of period duration.
While changes in period blood colour are generally normal, any sudden or persistent changes should be discussed with a healthcare professional. If you’re sexually active, regular visits to your local sexual health clinic can ensure your menstrual cycle remains healthy, address any concerns you may have, and allow you to get routine checkups for STIs. If you have any concerns, contact your GP or find your local sexual health clinic here.
The changing colour of period blood is just one in a wide number of concerns we hear about periods – it can be a confusing and under-researched topic. That’s why here at Fluus we want to help by keeping period products as simple as possible. Check out our flushable pads for hassle-free disposal and period products that are better for you and the environment.