Period Blood Colors and Textures: What Do They Mean? 306


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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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 »

Worried

My past two periods have been bright red, more watery, and sort of slippery with little to no clots, if any, they’re really small. This is unusual for me since the consistency of my period is usually what’s considered the norm. I’m 17 and haven’t been sexually active in a while, but could I be pregnant? Or is my period just changing?

Nity

Hi, I’m 30 yrs old with a 4 yr old child. I’ve been diagnosed with cervical polyp. Can it be a matter of worry as it’s not showing any symptoms yet. Doc advised for a D&C but I’m afraid of it. Also since last year I’ve been having greyish spots on my pad during period( and few jelly like dark red clots), what can it be, as period has become heavy and more discomfortful since then.(hate going to doc)
Thanks in advance.

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.