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What does your period colour say about your health

Red (UK) logo Red (UK) 01/05/2019 Dr Alex Eskander

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(Video by: Hello Giggles)

Concerned about the colour of your period blood? Most women have a period for five days a month, but it can last for anything between three and eight days and the flow and colour can change throughout your cycle.

When your period is at its heaviest in the first couple of days, the blood is usually bright red, but it can vary from pink to brown or even black. Dr Alex Eskander, Consultant Gynaecologist, The Gynae Centre, explains what your period blood types mean.

Why period blood varies in colour and texture

Period colour and texture varies based on many different factors, including how long the blood takes to leave your body, how heavy your period is, hormone changes and medical conditions.

Certain changes to the colour and texture of period blood can indicate an underlying health condition that requires medical attention.

It is normal for period blood to vary in colour. At the start and end of your period there is less blood flow and so it may take more time for the blood to leave the body, meaning that it has more time to become oxidised, resulting in a darker colour. 

Consistency tends to be slightly jelly-like but can differ between individuals.

What does black period blood mean?

Although it can look disturbing, black period blood is just blood that has taken longer to leave the uterus, and as such has oxidised more. This can be common in women who have infrequent periods.

What does bright red or dark blood mean?

Bright red and dark red blood are both signs of a healthy period. When the blood is bright red it is fresher – this is more common at the start of your period when bleeding is heavier. Dark red blood has just taken longer to expel from the body and has had time to become oxidised.

What does pinkish blood mean?

If you notice period blood with a pinkish tinge, it’s likely this is simply due to the blood mixing with cervical fluid, however, it could indicate low oestrogen levels if accompanied by a flow that is lighter than usual. If you experience a sudden, large flow of pinkish blood this could be a sign of a miscarriage.

What does orange blood mean?

Bright orange period blood is usually a sign of vaginal infection, for example, a sexually transmitted infection (STI) or bacterial infection. It may also be accompanied by an unusual smell or change in the texture of your blood.

A visit to your gynaecologist for diagnosis and treatment is advised.

What does grey blood mean?

Grey period blood or discharge can indicate that you have an infection and should book an appointment to see a doctor for treatment. Bacterial vaginosis is one of the more common infections, but if the grey discharge also has a change in texture there’s a possibility that you’re having a miscarriage.

Gallery: 12 things every woman should know about her period (Health.com)

What does watery period blood mean?

Some women just have lighter periods with thinner blood, however, if you notice any watery discharge in addition to blood, this could be a sign of a deficiency or something more serious like a fallopian tumour if occurs mid cycle in the perimenopause or after menopause.

What do clots mean?

Small clots are a natural part of menstruation and can be common in the first few days when the bleeding is heavier.

Clots happen when the blood pools and begins to coagulate. However, if the clots are larger than a 10p in size and are particularly frequent, this could be a cause for concern and may indicate a condition like fibroids, uterine polyps, or endometriosis.

What does a membrane like substance mean?

If you can see membrane or tissue in your period blood it’s likely something is wrong. Some of the most common reasons for membrane or tissue in your period blood include hormone issues, ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage.

Ectopic pregnancies can be fatal and so to be on the safe side, it’s advisable to visit your doctor or gynaecologist as soon as possible.

When should you visit a doctor?

It’s perfectly normal for period blood to vary slightly but if you notice something that isn’t normal for you, especially prolonged or significant changes to the colour or texture of your period blood, it’s best to make an appointment with your doctor or gynaecologist.

Women's health resources

If you have any health concerns, ask your GP for advice and you may be referred to a specialist, including a gynaecologist, psychiatrist or counsellor. Alternatively try one of the following resources.

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