It can appear in different colors and each color means something else. Sometimes, even your typical red might be something to worry about.
The color of your period blood is probably something you rarely discuss with people, even the close ones. But it's an extremely important indicator of your general health. Sometimes, it could even give you signs that something else might be wrong and it needs your attention. When your period blood is one of the following colors, here's what it means.
Your period blood is most likely to turn brown because of oxidation. Simply put, it's because your blood has had more time to oxidize and turn darker before coming out. “In those cases, the blood sits around a bit or comes out more slowly, allowing time for it to oxidize and turn brown,” said Dr. Kari P. Braaten, an ob-gyn at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA, according to Women's Health.
It is commonly seen at the end of your period cycle. Sometimes, consuming too much of iron (through sources like red meat or leafy vegetables) could amplify the oxidation process and cause your blood to turn brown. Even hormonal birth control can also have the same effect. Instances that are a cause for concern include noticing brown blood that's not related to your menstrual cycle. Noticing it after sexual intercourse could point towards a yeast or bacterial infection, or other infections that are sexually transmitted. It could even be a sign of a miscarriage.
Brown blood or discharge can also be a symptom of PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), where you might have irregular periods because your ovaries are unable to produce and release eggs in the manner it's supposed to. Make sure you seek an appointment with an ob-gyn is you notice brown blood that appears outside of your menstrual cycle.
It is normal to notice a bit of dark discharge at the beginning and the end of your periods. But noticing black color blood in between, for instance on the second day, is mostly because your blood is older. The longer the blood stays in your uterus, the darker it gets before coming out, gradually turning brown in color and then black. In most cases, black blood is just “blood that’s older, that’s started to clot a little bit,” said Dr. Rachel Peragallo Urrutia, an assistant professor of general obstetrics and gynecology at the University of North Carolina.
Sometimes, black blood could be an indication of a blockage in your vagina, according to Medical News Today. Black blood is a cause of concern when you notice it along with other signs like discharge with a foul odor, fever, itching or swelling in and around the vagina, pain while urinating or sex, or severe cramping. And it would be advisable to get in touch with your doctor.
When you notice your period blood being pink in color, it could be a sign that your estrogen levels have significantly dropped. This usually happens when you start adding physical activity to your routine. However, low levels of estrogen can come with certain risks such as higher chances of developing osteoporosis, according to Prevention. Taking birth control can also alter your hormonal balance and cause a drop in your estrogen levels, consequently making your period blood pink.
Sometimes, you might also notice pink blood when it mixes with cervical fluid. Other times, it could be caused by anemia, an unhealthy diet, or even weight loss. Noticing pink blood after sex could be because intercourse can leave your vagina and cervix with tiny tears; the blood from these tears combined with your vaginal fluids can come out in pink as well.
If you notice that your blood is orange in color, you might be seeing a result of your period blood mixing with cervical fluids. But there are times when orange blood could indicate something more serious, like an infection, according to Blume. Orange period blood is considered to be one of the earlier signs of a vaginal infection. If you notice this, along with discharge that comes with a foul odor, it could be a bacterial infection or an infection that is transmitted sexually. The best thing to do would be to seek medical help to get the right diagnosis and treatment.
The most common reason for your period blood to appear gray is bacterial vaginosis. Usually, there is a natural balance of bacteria that is present in your vagina that is normal. But when something disturbs this balance, it can give rise to conditions like bacterial vaginosis, according to Mayo Clinic. Most often, you are likely to notice other symptoms as well such as itching in and around your vagina and a burning sensation while urinating. You might also notice some discharge that has a foul or "fishy" odor to it.
A bright red or cranberry red is considered to be normal, indicating that you have a healthy cycle. But it's important to note that what might be normal for you can be different, based on your circumstances. Bright red period blood is usually a sign of fresh blood and a steady, smooth flow. However, it can be a cause for concern when you notice bright red spots or bleeding when you're not on your period. In these cases, it could be a symptom of STDs like chlamydia or gonorrhea.
At times, it could also be a sign of issues like polyps or fibroids, which also gives you heavy bleeding. While fibroids can develop at any age, they most commonly develop in women who are between the ages of 30 to 40, according to ACOG (The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists). Bright red bleeding could also be a symptom of cervical cancer in some cases when you notice along with other symptoms like pain in your pelvic region, heavier periods, vaginal discharge with a foul odor, and other symptoms.