Period blood colours: What is normal?
Pink, red, black, brown, orange or grey. Nope, this isn’t a new kind of rainbow. It’s the spectrum of shades of period blood you might see at different stages of your cycle. But what’s normal, and which colours are cause for concern?
In this article, we dive into the colour wheel to give you the flowdown:
What if I have dark period blood?
As far as period blood colours go, dark or black blood can look scary. But it’s pretty normal. It’s usually just old blood or blood that’s taking longer to leave your uterus, which means it gets oxidised and becomes darker.
That being said, if you’re getting black or brown discharge or bleeding between cycles, or if the dark bleeding or discharge persists and is accompanied by pain, odour or itching – book in for a check-up with your GP to determine the cause.
What if I have brown blood?
Similar to black, brown blood on your period is also normally old blood which changes colour from red to brown through oxidation. The most common times to see brown blood are when you have a slow flow, when there’s blood left from your previous period, and towards the end of your period when the bleeding slows to more of a ‘spotting’.
A much more unusual cause of dark brown spotting or bleeding could be a sign of a ‘missed miscarriage’. Unlike most cases of miscarriage, which are associated with bright red bleeding, a ‘missed miscarriage’ can occur when a foetus has stopped developing but isn’t expelled from the uterus for several weeks.
What if I have dark red period blood?
Dark period blood is often seen when you first wake up in the morning or after you’ve been laying down for a while. It can also be seen towards the end of your period as your flow slows down (on its way to becoming brown). This is due to the blood not being as fresh because it’s been sitting (or lying down) in your body overnight.
What if I have bright red period blood?
For many people, bright red period blood is the first sign of their period every month. It’s that fresh, fast-flowing blood that you’re probably most used to seeing. It might stay this colour for a few days, then your flow will most likely darken and turn brown as your period nears its end. The heaviest bleeding (usually at the beginning of your period) is often bright red.
Of course, if you see bright red bleeding (or any colour) in between your periods, you should check in with your doctor as it could be a sign of an infection or something else going on with your cycle.
What if I have pink period blood?
Pink period blood is one of the most common period blood colours. It happens either at the very start or towards the end of your period, especially if you’re ‘spotting’. Pink blood is often the result of red blood mixing with cervical fluid.
However, pink spotting in between periods can also be associated with low oestrogen levels. This could be caused by things like contraceptive choices to perimenopause. So, if it’s happening to you, go get it checked out.
Some people also mention pink spotting at the time of suspected implantation when getting pregnant – around 10 to 14 days after conception. If you have spotting around this time that’s not expected, a run to the pharmacy to grab a pregnancy test might be in order.
If you’re already pregnant, a sudden ‘gush’ of pink fluid can be a sign of miscarriage. This could be accompanied by cramps and other symptoms. If this happens, contact your midwife or doctor right away, just in case.
What if I have orange period blood?
Orange period blood or discharge is usually just a variation of pink blood or discharge as a result of blood mixing with cervical fluid – so the causes are also the same.
If you start bleeding an orange-ish colour that’s a different consistency to normal or has a bad smell, it could be a sign of an infection or STD. Check-in with your doctor pronto.
What if I have grey period blood?
Grey isn’t a typical period blood colour, so grey-looking blood or discharge is a reason to visit your doctor to check for signs of an infection, such as bacterial vaginosis. Other infection red flags include itching, pain, odour or fever.
If you’re passing grey tissue from your vagina, it could be a sign of a miscarriage.
What if I have all different period blood colours?
Don’t stress. Your period can change colour from the first day to the final day of light spotting. This is all normal and especially common in the first couple of years of menstruation, when your cycle is getting established. On the flip side, if you’re entering perimenopause, your cycle can become more irregular and you’ll see different period blood colours.
When should I check with a doctor?
The ‘healthy’ range of period blood colours is pretty wide, but it’s always important to ask your doctor if anything changes from your usual cycle, like:
- If your periods last longer than usual
- If your periods stop altogether
- If your periods become much heavier for no known reason
- If your periods become much lighter for no known reason
- If you have bleeding or spotting in between periods
If you’re not sure or something changes – just ask! It’s always a good idea to seek help from a medical professional if you’re unsure.