Period Blood Colors and Textures: What Do They Mean? 298

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

  • Glory

    Am having light, slippery and 3 days menses every month, with severe breast pain a Week before my menses. I also usually have light spot a week after my menses. And no ovulation. I have not been able to conceive since then.

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      If you’re seeing a lot of mucus in your bleeds with some spotting midcycle (outside of ovulation), you may be looking at estrogen dominance. Estrogen is what controls mucus production, but having too much will also lower progesterone. Estrogen-progesterone imbalances will also affect fertility, so if you’re TTC, you might see your care provider for a hormone evaluation.

  • Em

    I’m 26 years old. On birth control and Sexually active with my Boyfriend of 3 years. I had a sorta heavy period last month. But right now it has been very light all week so far and it is brown/clumpy/stringy (idk if that’s a good word for it) and a little grey here and there. I’m starting to freak out.

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      If the grey looks to be tissue, it’s not necessarily a miscarriage and being on birth control that’s less likely. It could also be something like a bit of fibroid, cyst, or decidua. Since you say it seemed stringy, I’d lean towards that last one. Decidual casts are usually seen in pregnancy, but high progesterone (which would also cause a heavy cycle) and birth control can cause them as well. Sometimes they come out as one huge piece, other times you’ll just get pieces. While the results can be a bit graphic, a google image search is an easy way to get an idea this looks like.

  • Jhie Anne Austria

    Hi. I think I belong to those women who has an irregular period, sometimes the gap is 3 months, before I’ve got severe dysmenorrhea where I’ll need both the pain killers and a hot pack to relieve it. But suddenly in my past two periods I didn’t experienced it, I’m glad ofcourse not until I got brown blood just two weeks from my last period it’s texture is watery, it’s been going for 4 days now. Tell me if I really need to take this matter into a big deal please. Thank you so much.

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      A big deal, no, probably not, but that your cycles are irregular in general means you may benefit from determining the cause of that underlying imbalance and working to remedy it. Hormonal imbalance can cause health issues well beyond cycle irregularities. This isn’t to say you seeing less pain is a bad thing, in fact it could be a sign your body is starting to self-balance, just that if things don’t regulate on their own it is worth it to look into the issue.

  • Ciara

    Hi okay so may 21st i got the nexplanon implant out i had it for a year and got my period may 24 for 4days i had a miscarriage june 10th and i didnt bleed at all june besides june 10th (ive been having unprotected sex with my partner were TTC without the whole time). I got my period july 9th and still on it now..july 21st its been heavy on & off ill get a lot of blood clots i use to get cramps but i didnt get them this period only these slightly cramps that lasted a few days ..i feel like im about to get off my period but when i go to the bathroom i always get a little bit of tiny blood clots (smaller then a penny unless theyre piled up together in the toilet today its light barely anything on my pad when i use the bathroom blood & small blood clots come out but not on the pad Can somebody please help oh and ive been masturbating like crazy (clit stimulation) so i can get off mt period & i tried recently having sex (he used a condom) and he only had a couple strokes in and stopped cause i was bleeding “a lot” wasnt that much to me
    But Somebody help me please !!!

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      I’m sorry for your loss. Having a hormonal form of birth control removed and a miscarriage in such a short time frame has undeniably done a number on your hormones. Something like masturbation/sex can’t stop a period, it has no effect on estrogen or progesterone. In this case I’d recommend seeing a care provider. It’s hard to say how to stop the bleeding without knowing why it’s happening exactly. They can also help you get things balanced out to lower your chance of repeat loss.

  • Tae edwards

    Hi I’m 13 and about 5 months ago I got my period, but I’m not sure if it is cause it’s never just blood it’s always gooey kind of looks like mucus mixes with blood. And I Don’t get it every month it’s been very irregular. I believe it is my period because i when I get it during that week I get crazy cramps down below. My mom been telling me it’s just irregular but I’m not sure btw never had sex.

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      In the first 2 years after your period begins 50% of cycles are anovulatory (meaning you don’t ovulate), this often makes for irregular cycles and is entirely normal. 🙂

  • Rachel (Fake name)

    I’m 14. I always get my periods early usually every 3 weeks. I started going on birth control to fix this. I started May 23rd and today it’s June 17th. I finished my last period I think May 4th but I’m not sure. I’very never had sex but I’ve been active in another way. I just had this discusting blood clot today that looked like literal human skin and just had blood on it. It had tiny veins on it. I’m scared that’s “TMI” but I’m really scared. Could it have been my virginity? Do I have an STI/STD? What do I do? I

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      It sounds like what you lost is a called a decidual cast (you can google image search that, but it is kind of gross). Occasionally birth control use can cause the shedding of the uterine lining as a whole chunk, rather than a little at a time called a decidual cast. Sometimes chunks of decidua also can come out, which look a lot like chicken skin (but bloody of course). If you haven’t had intercourse or semen anywhere near your vagina, you can’t have been pregnant, and until you’ve had vaginal intercourse, you’re still a virgin. A STI/STD wouldn’t cause this either (though if you are active protection is an excellent idea). As far as what to do, most of the time these sorts of things are a one-time deal related to pill use, but if you continue to see it or have any unusual pain, odor, itching, etc, I’d return to who ever prescribed your birth control for a possible pill change.

  • Alex

    Hey, you’re really great for answering all these questions in the comments. I also have one: I doubled up on my birth control pill by accident a time or two last week, and am sexually active. My period was brown and spotting lightly in the beginning, super light throughout but normal-colored, and now, 6 days in, it’s extremely light and bright red. I thought it was over and watery red blood almost ran down my leg getting out of the shower.

    I have no idea what’s going on and just kind of need any advice I can get right now as a 20-something who’s sole parent is a single dad; I’d really hope I’m not pregnant and it’s just the birth control pills. I did take two pregnancy tests, one a week ago and one a day ago, and both were negative.

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      Birth control pills are hormone-based, so when you double up, you’re giving yourself a double dose and creating kind of artificial hormonal imbalance. Imbalance can cause all sorts of not-fun stuff, like irregular bleeding, including heavier/lighter bleeds. That’s probably what’s going on here. Make sure you pay attention to the day on your pill pack, assuming it lines up correctly, that can be an easy way to see if you’ve taken your pill in a given day. If it doesn’t (which it may not if you’ve been doubling pills), you could either wait a little extra to start your active pills again (may increase the risk on pregnancy slightly that week) and start when it lines back up with your pill pack print (usually Sunday) or another option (that I actually use) is to set an alarm on your cell phone or take your pill at your morning alarm. The good news is if you were just doubling there’s no reason that would increase the risk of pregnancy on the pill. 🙂

      • Alex

        Thank you so much for your insight! It really helped me stop worrying. Things seem like they’re almost back to normal, as I waited a couple days to start back on the birth control again like you suggested. I had no idea that such a small pill could do so much, and I even like to consider myself at least somewhat informed about all the medications I put into my body. My pack actually gives me little stickers with the weekdays on them to put over the pack’s pre-labeled days, so I have a few options to make sure I’m extra careful in the future! Thanks again for sharing your knowledge. <3

        • Life with Gremlins admin

          It is indeed amazing the havoc hormonal medications and imbalances can cause. Glad to hear things are heading back to normal. 🙂

  • Missy

    I’m 18 and on birth control (pills). I am sexually actively and I missed my last period that should have happened about a month ago, but since I’m on birth control I didn’t worry too much. I haven’t ever missed a period while taking this pill though, so I took a pregnancy test just in case and it came out negative (a few days after my period should have started). Now my next period started and the blood is gray??? And clumpy. Just a weird texture. It’s kind of freaking me out. No weird odor or anything, just color and texture. Could it have been a miscarriage??

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      Possibly, but it’s very unlikely as it sounds like your test was in accurate range. What I would bet you saw, assuming it was actually tissue, was decidua. Decidua is usually formed in pregnancy, but as a result of higher levels of progesterone which are also present in birth control. You’re more likely to see pieces of this if you’ve had a really long cycle like you describe. You are welcome to google image search decidua or decidual cast (the is what it’s called when the entire lining is shed at once, rather than just small pieces), though I warn those images are not exactly pretty. Many describe it as like chicken skin. If you keep seeing them, it may be worth talking with your pill prescriber to see about a different dosage pill.

  • Anonymous

    I’m 34 and have a 2 year old. I’ve always been irregular, though they seemed to become slightly (but not totally) regular the older I’ve gotten. This most recent period has been the oddest one I’ve had. I didn’t get sore breasts or cramping, which I usually do, and it’s been very light and long lasting. Like I was only having to use 1 or 2 pads a day. Now I’m still bleeding, two weeks later, but it’s even lighter and I’m just using a liner. I have no pain. I was wondering if it could be a hormonal imbalance because I had several alcoholic beverages a few weeks ago and was stressed and moody. I’m wondering if this is affecting it or if it’s something else.

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      Usually a rise in estrogen prompted by FSH is what causes bleeding to stop after a period, so low levels of either of those can cause a period to be slow to stop, as can uterine fibroids/polyps, infection, or ovarian cysts. If you’ve been under a lot of stress recently that could absolutely be to blame. In most cases a single long period isn’t cause for concern (as long as there’s no pain, odor, etc), it’s a pattern of long cycles you’d want to talk to your care provider about.

  • Ragel

    I‘m 18 years old, and I have never had intercourse before.
    But there was a case of making ou naked. And my period is 2 months late. I’ve had increased bowel movement and exstreme abdominal cramp for the past 5 days and I can’t declair if I’m spotting or having my period. i am on contraception pills. And my flow is a bright red color but it only occurs after wiping, could this be the cause of my pills or is there a chance of being pregnant?

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      The pill can on occasion cause missed periods and/or irregular spotting. You can’t become pregnant just from making out naked. 🙂