Period Blood Colors and Textures: What Do They Mean? 159

period blood colorsWhile this topic lies pretty firmly in the too-much-information category, many, many women wonder about changes in period blood colors and texture. It’s something that you can’t really ignore, so it’s only natural to wonder when it changes in some way, shape, or form. The Net is flooded with questions like, “What does dark period blood mean?”, “Why is my period blood orange?”, “What do lots of clots in your period blood mean?” and “What does bright red blood mean during your period?” to prove it. Sadly, anyone searching any or all of the above will be met with pages and pages of forum results, not answers. This article will do its best to provide answers about period blood colors and texture changes through personal experience as a woman with an irregular period, an interview with a licensed mid-wife, and extensive research.


Period blood colors:

Bright red period blood: Bright red period blood is blood that was produced by the body recently. During a period, this just means what’s being shed was recently released in to the uterus. You may see more bright red blood if you have a lighter flow or frequent periods. Bright red period blood is also common in the beginning your cycle.

Dark period blood: Dark blood is essentially older blood. This means it’s been stored in the uterus longer and had more time to break down, may have begun to coagulate in the vaginal canal, or may have been exposed to air. Many women notice darker red blood when they first wake in the morning.

Brown or Black period blood: Black or brown period blood colors are the oldest blood; most women notice these colors at the tail end of their period or during light spotting at the beginning. It usually isn’t that heavy. This may have been blood that was stuck in folds of the uterine wall or if you have infrequent periods, was just the first to enter so long ago. Brown blood is also sometimes seen when bleeding is very light and takes some time to make it’s way out so to speak. Period blood clots also frequently appear darker, but we’ll get to that in a moment. You can read more about brown discharge, rather than actual bleeding, here.

Orange period blood: Sometimes when bright red blood mixes with cervical fluid it can appear an almost orange color with red flecks. Bright orange period blood can also be a sign of infection, however, so if you see it frequently, it has a foul odor, or it doesn’t also have a slippery consistency, see your doctor.


Period Blood Textures:

 Heavy period clots: Heavy clotting is usually prescribed to heavy periods. As blood is expelled, the body releases anticoagulants to keep it from clotting, but if your period is heavy, sometimes the blood flow and speed doesn’t give those anticoagulants time to work, and clots are the result. Clots can occur in any color of blood, though they are more commonly dark in color. This makes sense, because when you’re expelling older blood it has had time to build up a lining in the uterus as it should, and naturally a buildup of blood would create a heavier flow than fresh blood, which would be bright red in color. Frequent heavy clotting or clots larger than the size of a quarter can be a sign of a more serious problem and should be evaluated by your doctor.

Slippery and jelly-like period blood: Menstrual blood that seems almost slippery with a jelly-like texture is mixed with high levels of cervical mucus. Cervical mucus is always present in the vagina, even during menstruation, if your flow is light, it may be sufficient to alter the appearance of blood texture. You may also notice this after a bowel movement when more mucus is pushed from the cervix or if you’ve recently been pregnant. Period blood after a pregnancy is generally quite unique giving off a distinct smell of, well, decay.

Thin period blood: Thin blood is being properly prevented from clotting. It is often bright red in color and accompanies a light to moderate flow. Fresh blood will appear thinner as will blood that is light enough that it’s mixing with cervical fluid.

Tissue in period blood: If there is what appears to be actual tissue within your period blood it is possible you suffered an early miscarriage. Miscarriage tissue typically is described as being grey to white in color. It does not look like a common blood clot. Another type of tissue, called a decidual cast may also be shed in cases. Decidua is part of the mucus membrane of the uterus and is often described as looking like “chicken skin.” Decidual cast passage can be a sign of ectopic pregnancy or hormonal imbalance, but in other cases it just happens once and never happens again. If you have continued pain after passing a decidual cast, you should seek medical attention. (You can do an online image search for both types of tissue to get an idea of the difference, but due to the graphic nature of those images I will not share them here.)

Keep in mind, that in most cases, changes in period blood colors or texture are entirely irrelevant and don’t suggest any health problem. However, prolonged changes such as frequent heavy periods, odors, irregular periods, short periods, and/or severe pain during menstruation should be evaluated.

You may also find helpful:

Late period, missed period, irregular period, Oh, Why!?

Telling Difference Between Implantation Bleeding and a Period

Period-like Bleeding During Pregnancy

Menstruation Changes While Breastfeeding

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159 thoughts on “Period Blood Colors and Textures: What Do They Mean?

  • Cinnabon

    I got my period today and the blood is very orange and the flow is so light and little. I’ve also had cramps all day despite the fact that I took two ibrofen, in the morning and in the evening. Usually on my first day my flow is pretty heavy and it’s very red. Idk if I should be concerned about these changes or wait to see what happens next time so that that determines if I speak to my doc about this.

    • unwirklich admin

      If there’s no odor, itching, or pain beyond the usual period-cramp-like feeling, I would just wait and see what happens next cycle. It sounds to me like just a light period.

  • emily

    i’m 19 and i recently started the pill… been on it about 2 months now. this month i started my period the first week of november and then had another period a week after it ended. so in 3 weeks i’ve had 2 periods. this period is very light colored blood and thin blood. also i notice i get very itchy close to my period and sometimes on my period too since starting the pill. is this normal or should i call my doctor?

    • unwirklich admin

      Some irregularity is normal when first starting the pill, but if things don’t balance out within the next few months, yes, I’d return to your prescriber. You may just not tolerate this particular pill well.

  • Leena

    Im 12, This is my second period, the first was really heavy. This one I can go a day with the same pad. It’s more of a brownish yellow now. Should I be concerned?

  • Aru

    Hi. I am 25 years old and my period was delayed for like 6-7 months. Just a few days ago, I noticed some black spots in my underwear. Nothing heavy, just trickles. I am on my fourth day and it is still black. The flow is a bit stronger than the first one but nothing heavy. I do not have cramps or any pain at all. Can you help me? I am also married but do not have children. Also, we do not have protected sex.

    • unwirklich admin

      6-7 months is a very long time to go without a cycle. It would be entirely normal in this instance to get weird bleeding as that lining has been there far longer than it should have. While I don’t think you’re in need of immediate medical attention or anything, I’d recommend maybe seeing a care provider to find out why you aren’t getting periods. PCOS is a common cause, and that can be managed through diet and exercise. If you are trying to conceive, your chances are very low, as if you aren’t getting a period, it’s unlikely you’re ovulating.

  • Courtney

    I’m only 15 and i started my period early and i am not bleeding much but i’m having lots of cramps and my blood is mostly clots and not a lot of actual bleeding? Should I be concerned or is it just a unusual normal period?

    • unwirklich admin

      As long as you’re not soaking more than a pad in an hour, getting multiple large clots (larger than a quarter) or experiencing increasingly bad pain, it should be fine is probably just an off period. Irregular periods are normal in teens.

  • Desi

    I am 39, not really sexually active, my end of July & August periods were normal. Starting 9/25 I have had 4 periods in less than 6 weeks – 1st was normal but lasted 7days instead of 5-6, then nothing for 5 days then 2nd period started – lasted 6-7days then nothing for 5 days, then 3rd period started – lasted 7 days then nothing for 5 days then day 36 started a 4th period – currently on day 4 & this period seems very watery – too much for mini pad but tampon only 1/3 to 1/2 fills before I change it, never had watery kind before but also never had 4 in such a short time! I feel like every ounce of fluid I’ve put in my body (all water or milk) or energy I’ve had in the last month has been exhausted! I’m drained & constant blah feeling! I’ve always had normal paps with last being 18 months ago, dr told me at my age I can go every 3-5yrs between paps. I say not really sexually active except for 3-4x this year – once in July & once last week after the 3rd period ended. Any clues as to why so many periods or why this last one is watery? Besides total exhaustion things seem to be normal

    • unwirklich admin

      The watery period is probably because your lining is already gone, so you’re just getting fresh blood mixed with cervical mucus. Why your getting such frequent bleeding is hard to say, but most likely hormonal. You could either wait and see if it resolves on it’s own (up your iron intake if so) or go ahead and see a care provider now.

  • Marie

    For the past 3 months I’ve been getting these off periods. My periods usually start a normal red, and are moderate to heavy. The first month (August) I got my period a week early but I assumed it was because I had taken a Plan B. The period was light and it was mostly brown but some red. The second (Sept) was mostly red, but I had orange and brown bleeding/discharge at the end of the period. October was about the same as Sept. It’s November now and I’m getting that same orange-brown discharge, plus my period is a week early. As for pregnancy, I’ve taken multiple HPTs and even a blood test and they all came back negative. It’s weird because I feel like I’ve been experiencing pregnancy symptoms, the nausea and the tiredness and the tender breasts. I don’t know what could possibly be wrong with me, maybe stress or a weird pregnancy, but I need answers.

    • unwirklich admin

      Blood tests don’t produce false negatives unless there is a lab error (which is quite rare in a reputable lab). Plan B will cause cycle upset, but usually it’s just that first cycle. Your hormone balance is actually a very delicate thing though, even little lifestyle changes in diet and exercise can cause cycle differences, so stress is an entirely possible answer. I would say continue tracking your cycle, if things are still worrying you in a month or two see a care provider with your data.