What the Colour of your Menstrual Blood says about your Health
Has it ever happened to you that some months when you have the period you bleed a more intense red and others darker? Very little is known of what the different blood colors indicate. I can tell you that there are not only a couple of types of bleeding but many, and each one refers to a different thing about our menstrual health.
Both the colour, the smell and the texture of our body fluids have a specific meaning and can reveal a lot about our health situation.
Thanks to menstruation, women have monthly first-hand information about their intimate health, the only thing we need to learn is how to interpret it. Looking at our fluids we can detect if something is working differently in our body and requires medical attention or if on the contrary, everything is in order.
The Normal Colour of Menstruation
The colour of menstruation can vary from very light to very dark tones, depending on several factors, such as the day of menstruation we are at or if we use pads, tampons or the menstrual cup. Therefore, we should not be alarmed if the period changes its colour during the menstrual cycle since a certain variation during those days is normal.
Blood (and tissues) change colour depending on how long they have been exposed to oxygenation of the air. Think about when you get a skin wound; the blood that comes out of a fresh wound is red, but if you cover it becomes darker.
Next, we leave you a small guide with the possible colour tones of your period considered as normal:
- Light red-pinkish: It is very common during the first days of the period since the endometrium has not yet decreased. The amount of blood and tissue is minimal and can be found diluted together with the vaginal discharge. It would only be necessary to tell the gynaecologist if this pink colour persists until the last day of bleeding, as it may be due to hormonal dysfunction. It can also be a symptom of an approaching menopause. If you take birth control pills then it may be normal for you to have this colour throughout the period since it is an “artificial menstruation” and progesterone or estrogen or enzymes that affect the blood of the endometrium are not secreted with a natural cycle.
- Intense red or burgundy: It is the most common in the second or third day of the period and indicates good health and that your body is functioning properly. It usually has a liquid consistency and is quite abundant. However, if you notice that your period lasts more than 8 days with that intense red, it is important to consult a gynaecologist.
- Dark brown or black: No need to worry, it is completely normal and usually occurs more at the beginning or end of the period. It means that the blood has aged after leaving the uterus, going from red to a darker colour and even black. In addition, when mixed with air, it dries and turns brown. However, if you have any yellowish hue or unpleasant smell it may be indicative of infection.
Menstruation Colours that may be an Alarm
It is possible that certain situations or abnormalities alter the tone, considered normal, of the menstrual blood.
- Pale pink - white: If you notice that the menstruation is very watery and very light in colour, especially if you use a menstrual cup (if you use pads it is impossible to assess), it may be due to a strong iron deficiency anaemia. In any case, it is advisable to go to the doctor in case it is necessary to take an iron supplement.
- Small light-coloured spots: If it occurs a few days before the period has to come and the woman is trying to become a mother, it may be the first sign of pregnancy. This is due to what is known as implantation bleeding or false period. It can also be a sign of a hormonal imbalance, so it should be discussed with your doctor.
- Red-orange or yellowish: It may be caused by being mixed with the cervical flow, but if you notice other unusual symptoms such as burning, itching or a very unpleasant "fishy" smell, you should go to a gynaecologist to rule out a possible infection.
- Greyish: If you have greyish secretions, it may be a sign of infection caused by a sexually transmitted disease. If you have heavy bleeding with pieces of greyish tissue, this may be a sign of a miscarriage. You should go to the health care centre in both situations.
Other Textures that come along the Bleeding
During menstruation, not only liquid blood is expelled but also sometimes tissues that can alarm us.
- Clots: occur when the lining of the uterus expels large amounts of blood. There is no need to worry especially if they appear sporadically in the first days of the period. The consistency of menstrual blood varies during the cycle and from one cycle to another. Women can experience an abundant flow with menstrual clots one month and the following month have a light flow without clots. These changes are natural and can occur due to factors such as diet and lifestyle. Only if the clots are very numerous it can be a symptom of a hormonal alteration or the formation of myomas or endometrial polyps. In this case, it should be consulted with your gynaecologist.
- Lumps: they are completely normal fibrous textured fabrics. They indicate that endometrial tissue has been detached from the inner layer of the uterus, which is common during menstruation.
Remember that the colour of the blood can be misunderstood and it’s influenced by the intimate hygiene accessory that you use. Blood will not be seen as clearly with pads or tampons than with the menstrual cup. Whenever you have doubts or see any strange colour consult your doctor.
The changes in the blood colours of your period (in the shades of pink, red or brown / black) are not to worry. However, you should pay attention to its volume and changes in length and pain during your cycle, as these factors may indicate underlying health problems.