Period Blood Colors and Textures: What Do They Mean? 314


While for many this topic lies pretty firmly in the too-much-information category, many women wonder about changes in period blood colors and texture. Your period is something 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. Below you’ll find explanations for various period blood colors and textures to hopefully answer those questions.
period blood colors and textures chart

Period blood colors:

Bright red period blood: Normal

Bright red period blood was produced by the body recently. During a period, this just means what’s being shed was recently released into your 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 of a cycle. Bright red blood outside of your period may be a sign of light spotting from hormonal imbalance or hormonal flux as a result of ovulation or implantation (a sign of pregnancy).

Dark period blood (red or purple): Normal

Dark blood may appear red or even close to purple, and  is essentially older blood. This may mean it’s been stored in the uterus longer and had more time to break down, had begun to coagulate in the vaginal canal, or was exposed to air. Many women notice darker red blood when they first wake up in the morning. This blood may also be clotted.

Brown or Black period blood: Normal

Black or brown period blood colors are even older 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 (rusty): Possible infection

Sometimes when bright red blood mixes with cervical fluid it can appear an almost orange color with red flecks or look a bit rusty in color. Bright orange period blood can also be a sign of infection. If you see it frequently, it has a foul odor, or it doesn’t also have a slippery consistency, see your care provider.

Pink period blood: Normal

Pink period blood is a result of light bleeding. It’s most common at the beginning or end of a period, but if it’s the only blood you see over multiple cycles, it’s possible your estrogen is low.

Yellow period blood: Normal

Yellow period blood may not actually be blood at all. Cervical discharge that’s exposed to air or has been in the cervix for sometime may appear yellow. Yellow cervical discharge is more common and copious in pregnancy. It can also be a sign of high estrogen.

 

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. 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. Naturally, a buildup of blood would create a heavier flow than a fresh bleed, 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 care provider.

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. Blood with numerous small clots, may also be described as jelly-like.

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. In the later case, it may also seem watery.

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. 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. 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:

Telling Difference Between Implantation Bleeding and a Period with quiz

Period-like Bleeding During Pregnancy

Menstruation Changes While Breastfeeding

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Alyssa

Hey I am 25 years old. Just stopped my birth control last month . My last period was august30 thru sept. 2. I’ve never been more than a couple days late before. When I didn’t start after 10 days being late I took a pregnancy test and got a negative result. On day 11 past due I started spotting lightly pink and I put in a tampon and went on my way. In a couple of hours I took the tampon out and it has brown and pink blood on it but it wasn’t full. On day 12 I had… Read more »

Jenny

Hello! Thank you for writing such a detailed post about this. I would love your advice/opinion about my current experience on this matter. I am 30, and in the course of 6 months, I experienced two miscarriages. My first was at 10 weeks. Though it was devastating, the process was “normal.” My period came about 4 weeks post-miscarriage, and my cycle was once again like clockwork with no spotting. After 3 cycles, I was able to get pregnant again. The second pregnancy was off from the beginning. My hormone levels never rose properly, and at 6 weeks, I miscarried again.… Read more »

Rachel

Hello. I’m 36 with two children. I sadly lost my third child in January this year at 6 months pregnant due to complications with her health. We are now trying again. Since ovulation (predicted as 7th sept) I’ve experienced cramps, nausea, fatigue and sore breasts. My period was due the 21st sept. On the 22nd i had some very light spotting for a day with continued pregnancy symptoms as mentioned. But I’ve woken up this morning to a light bleeding. Pregnancy tests on the 17th were negative. I’m guessing my hormones are having some fun with me. Or maybe a… Read more »

Verleesha

Hey.
So I’ve never had regular periods… My youngest is 7 months old.. for the first 3 months I had a normal 28 day cycle..
Last month I got to 15 days late, then had 2 days of very light brown blood then nothing… All the pregnancy test said negative…
This month I got it on the day I was Expecting it normally, but I’m on day 10 of bright red fleshy/stringy blood.

Is my body just making up for last month??

Valev

20yr old female, had Paragard IUD placed back in feb2018, from then to now I’ve had a lot of spotting in between periods and don’t think I’ve experienced an actual period like they say while having this IUD inserted (That being very “heavy and painful” periods) however now I’ve had my period for a long time! about 2wks maybe even 2wks and a half. Not every day is the same type of flow, but it’s a moderate to light flow with very bright red blood in toilet, little to no clots and absolutely no pain, no discomfort or any out… Read more »