Period Blood Colors and Textures: What Do They Mean? 269

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

  • Phanta Sackor

    Hello, about two days ago I received my menstrual message.
    It was unusually very slippery and thin.But, about a week prior to my message I had taken some dose of doxacillin .Am I in any problem? Cause I’m really afraid.

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      Doxacillin is an antibiotic which can on occasion have an effect on sex hormones leading to temporary cycle changes. Things should get back to normal once your prescription course is completed. As long as you’re not also getting abdominal pain, odor, or itching, there’s nothing to worry about.

  • Anonymous

    Hello, I had an intercourse on 13th-14th day of my cycle but within 4 hours I took unwantes-72 pill and because of I was very nervous that time I took an another unwanted-72 pill next day again to assure not to be pregnant. After 1 week I also took a home pregnancy test But it was negative. But after 13-14th day I had bleeding of brown colour, I thought that was my regular periods but they are not. Then again I took an another home pregnancy test when this bleeding was stop that that was also negative. Then after 10 days I had a heavy bleeding of fresh red colour with little blood clots in that for regular 4-5 days like regular periods. Then I think that I am not pregnant but now again after 10-11 days I again have bleeding of pure red colour. So please tell me that how much assurity is there that wether Im pregnant or not? Please help me.

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      Taking a double dose of unwantes-72 is unquestionably going to cause irregular bleeding. How long is hard to say. Most women only see it about a month, but that’s a single dose. You may have done a number on your hormone balance for awhile unfortunately. As long as one of your tests was at least 14 days after the intercourse, your result should be accurate and you aren’t pregnant. 🙂

  • Monica Archibald

    Hi i have a question, i take the birth control xulane patch. i took it off this past Monday and usually i get my period on Friday, well i didnt get it till Saturday, 2 days ago. Well before i got it , i had this white discharge that smelled like decay now i have my period and its light with mucus striked blood. I read on here that it would be like that if i was recently pregnant, well my most recent pregnancy was 2 years ago with my daughter, what does all this mean?? Was i pregnant and lost it? Or am i pregnant now and its a emplantion of the egg?

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      Anytime you have discharge with an odor that you’d call unpleasant (decay would count), it’s best to see your care provider as this is usually a sign of some type of infection.

  • CuriousK

    Hi, I have a question.
    I have endometriosis and PCOS. I cant take the pill or any other hormones to regulate either of them for various reasons, so I’m used to pretty bad periods (typically need to take off work 3-4 days a month because of them). I started bleeding Friday and the amount of blood has been increasing then which is typical. However, today was excruciating in terms of pain and I bled an abnormal amount and had an abnormal amount of very large clots, even for me. Then tonight when I went to change my tampon, I found stringy pink pieces of some kind of tissue on it. They would not tear apart and a couple of them were over an inch long. I’ve had miscarriages in the past and this wasn’t miscarriage tissue. Could it be part of a decidual cast even though I’m not on hormones?

    Thank you 🙂

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      Decidua is built by high levels of progesterone, which would be more likely in those with PCOS, so yes, it could be. If the bleeding has stopped I’d count it as a one off, but if it happens again next month maybe see your care provider. If you’re losing a lot of blood, anemia could be a big concern. With hormonal options off the table, it’s hard to say what they could do. I’m not sure something herbal like Vitex would be sufficient in your case. Perhaps there’s an underlying issue exasperating your preexisting conditions that can be addressed. I’m sorry I couldn’t be of more help.

  • Cher

    Hi, I always had irregular periods. But after the birth of my son, they became more regular. While they didn’t come like clockwork, I would always either get it between the last week of the month, or the first week of the new month. However, this time it came last night (2/13) and looks very slimy. My diet has not changed and I am currently sexually active with my partner. Should this be cause for alarm?

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      Slimy is usually a sign of high estrogen, which could be from approaching ovulation (which would be normal). If you’re breastfeeding, that could be your culprit as even slight nursing changes can affect hormone levels. Small cycle changes like this aren’t usually cause for concern, it’s a pattern of irregularity that can be a sign of an underlying issue. If it was a full period, I would go ahead and wait and see what happens next cycle. If it wasn’t a full period and more just spotting with cervical mucus, you might try a pregnancy test just to rule that out. Pregnancy can also increase discharge.

  • Eva

    Hi! I’m 22years old. Not having sex. Not taking any pills. Usually my period is super heavy and lasts for about 5days.This time it came out way more watery and in lighter colour. Also it’s not bleeding as heavy as usual. Should I be worried?

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      Cycle changes like this aren’t cause for concern unless you see a pattern (more than one cycle). If it does keep up, you might speak with your care provider, but it’s likely hormonal. Lifestyle changes are the most common cause.

  • Erika

    I have just got my period and its very slimy and does not come out a lot like it usually does I have been dieting to loose weight is this normal or should I go see a doctor

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      Changes in diet can absolutely affect your period. It sounds like you’re having a light cycle that’s heavy in cervical mucus. As long as there’s no odor, itching, or pain, that’s not cause for concern and things will likely go back to normal as your body adjusts to the new diet.

  • Kit

    Hello. I hope you respond to this. My period over the past 4-5 months has lengthened to about 10 days -up from the usual 7 it’s been for a long time. This time, my flow has surprised me. For three days now, it’s all been the dark brown/older looking blood and I’m not expulsing it. My pads every day have come out clean, so it’s pooling, only coming out when I check around down there. Normally, my period blood does pool, but it comes out like flood gates opening once a day, and it usually is a normal red color with a little bit of brown near the end. I’m in my mid-twenties.

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      Is the slow flow just at the beginning of your period? If so, brown spotting like this is often from low progesterone. Vitex can be an effective fix for many.

      • Kit

        If the first four days counts as the beginning of the period. Usually my flow doesn’t slow until the end, where I get a little brown spotting. I’ll check out Vitex, thank you.

        • Life with Gremlins admin

          Yes, low progesterone would show as long periods that may begin slowly with more spotting rather than what you’d call a full flow, possibly with short cycles (less than 28 days). So if you’re seeing 10 days, with the first 4 brown and light, it’s a likely culprit.

  • Jessica Waters

    Hi ive noticed over the past 3 to 4 periods its coming a day later than usual on the pill. It always came on the monday but now its coming on the tuesday also the first day its brownish. Is this normal for my period to be doing this or should i be worried.

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      Normal period variance is +/-3 days, even on the pill. Slight flow changes are also normal, so if you don’t have any other symptoms, there’s probably no cause for concern and it’s just normal hormonal flux.

  • Mary Denise Lemus

    Hi, I need help. I hate going to the doctor. My period came and for 2 days I spotted then quit for 4 any now I’m flowing but the clot I passed has a white mucus stuff attached to it. I can’t have kids for 18 yrs now. I’m 45 and have no clue about what I’m seeing

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      At 45, it’s likely you have or are hitting menopause. If the tissue looked like snot, it was probably just cervical mucus. If it was more like chicken skin, it’s not impossible that the tissue you saw was a miscarriage, but it’s more likely it was a chunk of hormonal-imbalance-induced decidual cast. Assuming you have no other symptoms, these things are usually a one-time deal and not a reason for a medical visit.

  • Danielle

    My period isn’t a bright red color with grayish brown lumps in it and I’m not sure what’s going on. A possible explanation would be greatly appreciated.

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      Are they jelly-like or seem more like there’s actual tissue to them (chicken-skinish or stringy)? If they look more like globs of jelly, those are just blood clots and considered normal unless you’re seeing multiple clots larger than a quarter. If they appear to be actual tissue, you could either be looking at a miscarriage or bits of a decidua tissue. Occasionally in cases of hormonal imbalance decidua can be shed outside of pregnancy. This can be more common if you just started or stopped a form of hormonal birth control. A final possibility would be a shed fibroid, but in that case multiple pieces would be less likely.