Period Blood Colors and Textures: What Do They Mean? 234

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

  • Doesn't want to be prego

    Hello, I hope you’re doing good. Thanks for your articles.
    Well, I’ve had had Intercourse but we suspected the breaking of the condom, not sure. The next day I had urgent urinating need. I went, 2days after intercourse and took a morning pill Ellaone with, at the same time, an Urinating Infections antibiotic. Now at the time of my period, I got at my 28th day, which is the exact day of my period starting, a heavy bleeding which I thought was period, but it’s mixed with mucus, and started saturday evening and stopped yesterday (tuesday). I didn’t have any cramps, I normally get a lot on my period. What was this blood? Period? Or am I pregnant? My breasts are also full, does it have anything to do with it? Please answer.. I will be really thankfull.. I don’t want to be pregnant.

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      Emergency contraceptives are hormone based and often can alter your cycle and cause pregnancy-like symptoms. If you got a period and it was on time, pregnancy is unlikely, but you can always take a test to confirm.

      • Doesn't want to be prego

        Oh thank you for this auick answer really! The problem is I don’t have the luxury to take one now or else my parents would know.. I got my period, on time, but I don’t know if it’s period or implantation bleeding.

        • Life with Gremlins admin

          If a test isn’t an option, all you can really do is wait and see what happens next cycle. If you have another timely period, pregnancy is pretty much ruled out.

  • Anonymous

    I have had clots of pinky/white mucus (like chicken skin!) in my last two periods.. is this normal or what might it indicate? Also my last two periods have been lighter than normal, as I usually have quiet heavy flows.

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      If it’s just chunks of chicken-skin-like pieces, it’s probably bits of decidua, hormonal imbalance can sometimes cause decidua outside of pregnancy (usually in cases of high progesterone.) Some women will shed the entire uterine lining at once, called a decidual cast, others just see little chunks. While they are graphic, if you google image search “decidual cast” you’ll see some example images.

  • Bobbie-Jo Boucher

    I am in perimenopause, my menstration seems to be QUITE different this time. I started off really light for 3 days (my normal is moderate for 4 days). My flow seemed to change on the 4th day to a heavy flow but with bright red, thin blood AND lots and lots and lots of dark red jelly like clots. I have never clotted before and usually only use 3-4 supersize tampons per day. I am now changing my supersize tampon every 1-2 hours. Is this something normal, or something I should address with my doctor???

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      In premenopause your hormones really start to fluctuate and it’s entirely normal to see period changes and other signs of hormonal imbalance (hot flashes, moodiness, nausea, flatulence, etc.). If you start to see multiple clots larger than a quarter, feel dizzy or lightheaded, or experience irregular heartbeat, then you’ll want to see your doctor, excessively heavy periods can sometimes lead to anemia.

  • Anonymous

    Just wanted to say thanks for this article. I had a miscarriage and noticed a change in my clotting ever since. I finally have some sort of answer as to why they look different since my doctor just says it’s normal.

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      Prolonged heavy bleeding is something you’d want to talk to your care provider about. An iron supplement might help in the meantime (at the least to prevent anemia). Issues like this are usually hormonal, and birth control is a common solution.

  • aisha

    Hi….for the first time it happened with me…as usual date..I have my periods.. but this time I have my periods on same date…but its colour is very very light…. nd appear only once a day….nd its colour is creamy colour…. is it normal…or I need to worry..nd it happened for the first time in my life…..
    plz…reply me…as soon as possible

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      It’s not uncommon for a period to start slow, light, and mixed with cervical mucus like this. Slight diet or lifestyle changes, even stress, can be to blame for small cycle changes, or if you are a teen, your hormones are still in flux and your cycle will fluctuate more.

  • Evelyn

    Hi! So I had sex on the 15th roughly 4-5 days before when my period typically comes (about the 19th). We didn’t use a condom but he did not ejaculate in me. I got spotting on the 17th and assumed it was my period but typically the first day of my period is heavier and then it’s regular//a little light the rest of the time which usually is about 4 or 5 days max. I’m still on my period now and it’s still been pretty light, a lot lighter than usual but I don’t know if I’m just really paranoid about pregnancy. As the days progress it seems like it’s getting a little heavier. If it matters at all it was only my second time having sex. The first time was roughly a week and a half prior and we used the pull out method. I think my flow is too heavy to be implantation bleeding but I’m not sure. I’m just pretty concerned. Could my lighter period flow be a result of his sperm in my system via anal sex? Best regards, xx

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      It takes a minimum of 6 days for implantation, spotting 2 days after is likely either light cervical bleeding from the intercourse itself or since you’re so close to your cycle start date, just some pre-period spotting. If you are a teen, irregular cycles are considered normal (changes in flow, duration, etc) because your hormone levels are still in flux. Sex so close to a period is very unlikely to result in pregnancy as ovulation occurs midcycle and the egg only survives about 24-48 hours. I will note for the future though that the pullout method is not a reliable form of birth control as precum can contain sperm, and a man can’t control the release of precum. Sperm does not enter your system during anal sex, well, beyond the anal cavity. It would have no affect on your cycle.

  • Angel Decker

    I was a week late for my period and then when it did come it was a light pinkish color but only when I would wipe then it stopped but the next day it was a light pinkish color and a jelly slippery gray colored spots in it what does this mean in should I be worried?

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      I’m sorry, for some reason our spam filter caught your comment, and I check that bin a lot less frequently. It sounds to me like you just had a light period, possibly with a little early ovulation (jelly-like discharge that isn’t immediately after a bowel movement is often at ovulation). Certain infections can also cause discharge changes though, so if there’s any itching, odor, pain, or redness, you might see your health care provider.

    • 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.