Colorful Period? What Do Menstrual Blood Colors Mean + What’s Normal?
Menstruation can be a mystery for many. From the lack of open discussion about periods and menstruation in general to a deficit in general public knowledge and information taught at home and in classrooms…menstruators are left with many questions about the process overall.
If you menstruate, you may find that your menstrual blood colors change over time. Maybe they change month to month, have changed over the years or like many, vary throughout your cycle itself. What do menstrual blood colors mean? Here’s some info:
Looking down at the varying colors of blood, menstrual fluids and textures that your period produces may be stressful. If you’re using a reusable menstrual cup then you get an upfront and personal opportunity to see and inspect your cycle. Why different colors? Why different textures?
When we think of menstruation/our periods we often think of blood. However, typically only half of your menstrual fluid is blood. About half of menstrual fluid is blood. Other things in your menstrual fluids include cervical mucus, vaginal secretions, and endometrial tissue. (1)
These menstrual fluids pass from your uterus through your cervix and into your vaginal canal. They are typically collected in the vaginal canal by a menstrual cup or pad.
In addition to differences in colors, the texture of menstrual fluids change. It can be thinner or thicker, contain clots that may be thicker concentrations of blood or endometrial tissue or both. (2)
Clots? “Normal” clots that may appear jelly-like or like old pudding are typically smaller than a quarter and are occasional. If you are passing a lot of clots or large clots this may be a medical emergency or possibly a miscarriage if you may have been pregnant. (2)
When is a heavy flow too heavy?
A very heavy flow or Menorrhagia or menstrual bleeding that lasts more than 7 days. It can also be bleeding that is very heavy requiring the need to change your menstrual pad or tampon every 2 hours or you pass clots the size of a quarter or larger. This is something that requires a doctor’s visit. (3)
If you’re using a menstrual cup, you can actually measure your flow! Most menstruators will lose less than 16 teaspoons of blood (80ml) during their period, with the average being around 6 to 8 teaspoons (30-40 ml). (7)
Menstrual blood colors:
Yellowish and/or watery: This is typically cervical mucus or normal vaginal discharge that has increased due to hormonal changes right before your cycle starts and is a common beginning to menstruation. (4)
Pink: During your cycle, you may also notice pink menstrual blood. This is especially true at the beginning of your cycle when blood mixes with an increase in vaginal discharge and mucus leaving your vaginal canal ahead of full-on menstrual fluids including varying shades of red and brown fluids.
Brown: Brown menstrual blood is typically old blood. It can come at the beginning of your cycle and also follow it up as your cycle starts and gets rid of blood left from your last period. As blood sits longer it turns brown so it may also be at the end of your cycle as older fluid makes it’s way out. This can also be characteristic of a slow-moving flow (5)
Possibly low progesterone levels. (6)
Dark Red: This is typical period blood. When you think of your cycle, this dark red blood is the hallmark of menstruation. (5)
Bright Red: Have you ever cut your finger slicing vegetables? The bright red blood is definitely brighter than the dark red blood listed above. This is also considered normal during menstruation unless you have some sort of specific incidence that would cause you to have an injury. (5)
This may be an indicator of low estrogen levels. (6)
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How hormones relate to menstrual blood color
While not a true predictor or indicator of hormone levels, some believe that menstrual blood colors relate directly to hormones. Especially if the color dominates your cycle. Again, this is not any sort of diagnostic tool or test but if you have concerns it may be something to contact your practitioner about.
I have also read about blue period blood and related to high estrogen levels and thought I should include it as a possibility here too.
Also, keep in mind that your menstrual cycle is probably not only one color. It may start one color, change several shades and end in another.
How colorful is your period?