Period Blood Colors and Textures: What Do They Mean? 217

While 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 and textures changes

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

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      If every cycle you’re seeing large clots for more than a day or two. It’s common for most women to have 1 or 2 days of heavy bleeding every now and then, but a pattern of very heavy periods should be evaluated.

  • sarah

    I normaly have really heavy periods lasting 7-8 days with stotting on the last day , my last period was only 2 days with blackich at the begining and end of the day for both days i had light pinkish blood but all up filled one pad in 2 days im due in 3 days normally id feel my period about to start ei:cramping is this normal

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      It’s possible it was just a one-off light period or it could be spotting (most probable cause hormonal). Either way, it’s a pattern of irregularity you should look out for. A one time deal like this isn’t cause for concern.

  • Lola Martinez

    So my period blood is white and I know for a fact I was not pregnant. I was never pregnant. Should I be worried or not.

  • Nicolette

    Hi, so I’m wondering what it means, so i started my period 2-3 days ago, an it’s always been the jelly an slippery type, but in stead of decay smell, I smell a Honey bun, an I have noticed these last few years that, if I exercise or walk a lot or anything like that where I’m not just laying down or sitting, not moving at all, I tend to bleed a lot more and I do have a doctor’s note this Tuesday bout another issue but all relating to my uterus, I was just wondering if the smell is bad or something

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      The smell of your period blood really depends on the mucus and bacteria present at the time. For instance a strong smell of decay, usually means you’re seeing quite a bit of bacteria. A sweet smell probably means that hormonally your body has already begin to shift your mucus pH for ovulation. Chances are there’s nothing wrong if you aren’t also having pain or itching. You could go ahead and ask your doctor though if it would make you more comfortable.