Love her, hate her, or celebrate her – a visit from aunty Flo each month shows you that everything is happy and healthy with your lady bits. During your menstruation period, you might notice slight changes in the blood color and might be asking yourself: ‘Wait… is that normal?!’
It is normal for the blood of your menstrual flow to range from crimson to dark red blood. Old blood can even be darker, brown blood – or almost black in color. Usually, brown period blood (or any other odd color) isn’t anything to be worried about. However, sometimes seeing an unusual period blood color could indicate a vaginal infection, bacterial infections, hormonal imbalances, or other medical conditions that need to be checked out.
What Happens During Your Period?
The lining of your uterus, or womb, builds up and becomes thicker throughout your menstrual cycle. This is where a fertilized egg would embed if you were to become pregnant. However, if you’re not pregnant, this uterine lining sheds and works its way out of your womb every month when you have your menstruation. This causes menstrual bleeding and is often accompanied by those characteristic period pains.
This lining of your uterus, called your endometrium, contains numerous spiral-shaped arteries. These arteries supply fertilized eggs with blood, nutrients, and oxygen. Before you get your period (when you’re not pregnant), these arteries constrict. Once this happens, your endometrium starts to break away from your uterus wall, causing the arteries to bleed. Because the arteries are already constricted, the amount of blood that is lost when this happens is limited. The lining of your uterus breaks away a little bit at a time. These pieces of shed uterine lining and blood slowly work their way through your cervix and out through your vagina.
This mixture of blood and tissue is what we refer to as menstrual blood, even though it technically isn’t only blood that comes out.
The Different Colors of Blood You Can Get During Your Period.
It’s normal for your period blood to differ in color throughout your menstruation period. The differences in color are usually caused by the blood coming into contact with oxygen. This blood becomes oxidized as it interacts with the oxygen. Oxidized blood should not be confused with oxygenated blood that becomes redder as it binds with oxygen to carry it to your body cells.
Dark red, brown, or black blood color.
Your endometrium becomes darker the longer it’s been separated from its blood supply and has been exposed to oxygen. The longer it takes to leave your body, the darker it becomes. The blood and tissue take longer to leave your body at the beginning and end of your period. This usually makes the discharge you see at these times darker in color.
The longer it stays in your body, the darker it will become. It could turn from dark red to brown and eventually to black. Although darker blood, like brown period blood, can be expected, black period blood could indicate a blockage inside your vagina. In this case, the dark fluid will be accompanied by other symptoms like having a fever, having difficulty urinating, and itching or swelling in or around your vagina. There might also be a funky smelling discharge.
Bright red period blood color.
Around the second or third day, your period blood flow will usually increase and turn bright red. During this time, blood and uterine tissue leave your body quicker than at the beginning and the end of the period. Because this blood spends less time being exposed to oxygen, it will appear as a brighter, almost crimson color. Some people have bright red blood throughout their period and see no changes in their period blood color.
It is also common to experience darker blood clots in color mixed with the bright red blood during this time. These clots are usually slightly older blood or tissue working its way out along with the newly released fluids.
Pink period blood color.
Your period blood could look pink or light red if it’s mixed with cervical fluid. Low estrogen levels could cause this. Estrogen helps to stabilize your uterine lining. If you have low estrogen levels, you could shed parts of your uterine lining throughout your cycle – not just during your period – and this could show up as pink spotting. Low estrogen levels can be caused by perimenopause or being on hormonal birth control that does not contain estrogen.
Pink blood could also be caused by small tears in your vagina or cervix from sex. The blood from these tiny tears then mixes with your vaginal fluids and cervical mucus, and it comes out as a pink discharge. Usually, these small tears heal on their own, but you might want to speak to a medical professional if sex is painful for you.
Your body might cause a small amount of bleeding during the time in your menstrual cycle when it releases an egg. This is referred to as ovulation bleeding and is often pink in color as it mixes with your vaginal mucus.
On the other hand, if you experience a pink discharge that is watery and irregular (read: not related to your cycle), it could be a sign of cervical cancer and needs to be checked out.
Gray period blood color.
A gray vaginal discharge usually means you have bacterial vaginosis. Bacterial vaginosis is where there is an imbalance of the good and harmful bacteria in your vagina. In this case, the gray blood will be accompanied by a foul odor, burning, painful urination, and itching in and around your vagina.
Orange period blood color.
Your period blood might also appear orange if it’s mixed with your cervical fluid. Although this could be normal, it might also indicate an infection, especially if orange blood is accompanied by vaginal itching discomfort and (again) a strange smelling discharge.
Bleeding that isn’t part of your regular cycle.
Menstruation bleeding isn’t the only vaginal bleeding that could occur naturally – and that shouldn’t necessarily raise concern. Implantation bleeding is light bleeding or spotting that happens when an embryo attaches to your uterine wall. Implantation spotting is usually lighter and shorter in length than your normal period. It could show up between 10 to 14 days (or up to 8 weeks) after conception and can be mistaken for your regular period.
Abnormally heavy bleeding and bleeding at irregular times during your cycle – not when you are supposed to have your period – could indicate that your bits aren’t healthy. In these cases, it is always recommended that you have it checked out.
Vaginal bleeding is a natural part of your body’s natural monthly menstrual cycle. For the most part, seeing different colors of menstrual blood is normal and healthy.
The color of your menstrual blood, irregular periods, and heavy bleeding are strong indicators to look at when deciding whether something might not be quite right down there.
While a brown discharge, bright red, pink, orange, and even black period blood could all be seen during a healthy period, if it is accompanied by any symptoms that raise concerns, you need to visit a medical professional.