Many shades of red
MANY SHADES OF RED
The meaning behind the colours of your period
Have noticed that your period has a lot of different colours and shades? It is not only red, although this is often the predominant colour. It is normal to find that your menstrual blood has different shades of red and even different colours. It is very important to pay attention to the bleeding because length, timing and appearance are great indicators of a woman’s overall health.
Therefore, to understand why the period has different colours, it is important to explain how it works. First and foremost, menstruation happens after your uterus prepares itself to receive an embryo. In order to do so, it creates a ‘nest’, called endometrium. If no embryo is formed, the endometrium breaks way from your uterus, starting what we all know as period. In short, your menstruation is your uterus cleaning itself.
Ok, but why does menstrual blood change colour? There is a lot of factors that can interfere in its colour. It can be because of the length of time that it is in contact with oxygen, because of hormones or even because of a medical condition. It may seem confusing right now but we are going to break it all down for you and explain what exactly each colour of the period means.
Dark red, brown or black period
At the beginning and at the end of menstruation, it is normal to have darker blood. This darker colour appears because the blood has been exposed to oxygen and has oxidised. The longer it takes for the blood to go through the cervix, the darker the colour may be. If it is black, do not panic! It may be remains of your last menstruation. You may also find black spots that are a different texture. There is no need to panic because this is nothing more than fragments of the endometrium. After lying down for a long period of time, it is normal to find that your menstrual blood is a dark shade of red. This simply indicates that the blood was in contact with oxygen but not for long.
Bright red period
It is probably the most common colour and the one that you are most familiarised with. But in fact it is not the first colour that women see when their period starts. Usually we see bright red period when the blood flow intensifies. With a higher menstrual flux, the blood is less exposed to oxygen and does not oxidise as much.
Light red or even pink blood is nothing more than blood mixed with cervical mucus. It can happen when your period is less abundant or even during ovulation, or when you are spotting (bleeding outside of the regular period). Although it is usually normal, sometimes, a pink colour may indicate vitamin or nutrient deficiency or even anemia. You just need to be very conscious of your normal cycle.
Orange menstrual blood happens for the same reason as pink menstrual blood - it is just blood mixed with cervical mucus. But it can also be more than that. Sometimes, an orange-like tint is a symptom of a sexually transmitted disease or infection [STD/STI] or even of a bacterial infection. So, if it is not normal for you to have it or if it has a weird texture or a foul scent, it is time to see a doctor.
If you find that your discharge or menstrual blood is a greyish colour, the best thing to do is to go see a doctor. It is usually a sign of an infection like bacterial vaginosis or, in case you are pregnant, it may be a miscarriage.
Bottom line, it is perfectly normal to have different blood colors during menstruation. What is important is for you to be aware of your menstruation and of your flow. That way you will be able to tell if anything is out of the ordinary. Hence, if your period has an unusual color, or if you start getting itchy, feverish, feeling pain or spot swelling, it is vital to seek professional help. It may be nothing, but better safe than sorry, right?