When it comes to periods, there is a quite a bit of variation within the boundaries of what’s considered “normal”. From age of onset to cycle length and length of bleeding, everyone is a bit different. So sometimes it can be hard to know when your experience is normal. Your period can actually tell you a lot about your hormonal health. Even your period blood color can provide insight.
According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists, a woman’s menstrual patterns provide valuable insight to overall health. In fact, they recommend that including an evaluation of the menstrual cycle as an additional vital sign can provide data regarding a patient’s overall health status. But what exactly is normal when it comes to the menstrual (bleeding) phase of a girl’s period?
Period Blood Color and What it Means
Period blood varies from pinkish to red and all shades in between, brown and even gray. Here’s a run-down of what the colors may indicate.
For most women, red blood is the textbook version of an ideal, healthy period. The blood may be very thin (like cherry Kool Aide) or a bit thicker like Jell-O that hasn’t set.
Sometimes when your flow is light, your blood may appear more pinkish. This is usually due to the blood being watered down by cervical mucus and is nothing to worry about. If, however, your blood is consistently light pink, especially during your heaviest days, it may be a sign of low estrogen level.
Exercise may play a part because low estrogen levels are common among athletes. Other causes of low estrogen include nutrient deficiency, such as those associated with eating disorders, and hormonal shifts as one approaches menopause. Additionally, low estrogen may be an indication of a low-functioning pituitary gland.
Brown period blood color is also somewhat common. This is a sign of oxidation and simply means the blood is old and has been sitting in the uterus. It is likely just the remains of last month’s period that didn’t get completely shed.
Brown bleeding is most common at the beginning or end of a woman’s period, after giving birth, and with women using contraceptives such as an IUD or the pill. Rarely, brown spotting can occur shortly after implantation when you become pregnant.
Most of the time, brown period blood is not a cause for concern. However, it can also indicate the presence of ovarian cysts, fibroid tumors, or endometriosis. If you consistently have brown bleeding that is more than just a bit of spotting at times during your period, or if you suspect you are pregnant and see brown blood, it’s a good idea to consult with your healthcare professional.
Very Dark Red to Black
Black bleeding is less common, but still remains within the realm of normal. Black blood is similar to brown and has been in the uterus or vagina longer. It can also result from a very sluggish cycle. Black blood can be a warning sign during pregnancy, as black blood may indicate a miscarriage.
Although not a color variation, many women experience clots during their periods. While some clotting is normal and nothing to worry about, large clumps accompanied by a very heavy flow may indicate an underlying issue. if you notice clots larger than the size of a quarter, it may be time to check your hormone levels. Large or frequent clots can be an indication of low progesterone and/or high estrogen levels or fibroids.
Gray blood is uncommon and definitely warrants a visit to your doctor. This is because grayish bleeding usually indicates infection. For example, bacterial vaginosis (BV) causes a grayish discharge and a foul fishy odor. This may be more noticeable just before or just after your period. Other common symptoms to look out for include vaginal itching, swelling, and a burning sensation when urinating.
Period Products with Peace of Mind
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