Remember the fun game we all have played in our childhood – ‘Tipi Tipi Top, What Colour You Want?’
This period blood colour variation reminds me of the same (strange and no correlation but somehow it does!)
Ask around (to the menstruators) and you will come to know that quite a few of the girls experience varied colours and hues of their period blood.
Indeed, girls are known to fancy colours but this one is not by choice and wish.
Period blood or menstrual blood is the fluid discharge that happens when the thickened lining of the uterus (endometrium) breaks down and comes out of the body through the vagina, also known as menstruation.
During menses, what you see on your pad or tampon, or even in the toilet bowl is a mixture of blood, tissues, mucous, and clots. It is not purely and solely blood, the same kind that flows in your veins. Period blood also differs in colour and consistency from the venous and arterial blood running through the body.
Interestingly, how this blood looks, will change from day to day during your period, and from one period to the next. It also differs from one person to another.
The Shade Card
Pink, bright red, dark red, brownish-black, orange, blue, purple and even grey. Period blood can be seen in a wide range of colours and hues, depicting health or illness.
What Makes the Colour Differ?
There are a bunch of factors that affect the colour of menstrual blood, ranging from the age of the blood, hormonal activity, and infections.
The brightness or darkness of the colour of period blood depends on the duration it stays inside your uterus and vagina; all because of its reaction with oxygen. The longer it stays inside, the darker it becomes. The faster your uterine lining sheds, the less it gets exposed to oxygen, resulting in a brighter hue of the blood. It’s that simple!
Colours of Period Blood
Period blood is seen and reported in shades of pink, red (bright and dark), brown/ black, grey and orange. The shades and colours can mean different things.
Normal Colours of Period Blood
There are many shades of ‘normal’ when it comes to period blood.
Pink: Pink period blood is often noticed at the onset of bleeding. At this stage, some of the fresh, bright red blood mixes with vaginal discharge making the colour look pink or light red. Vaginal discharge is a mix of fluid and cells shed by your vagina to keep your vaginal tissues healthy, moist, and free from infection/irritation.
If your periods are light then also the blood may appear pinkish-red.
Bright red: Woo hoo! This is the best you can have. As the uterus starts to actively shed blood during your period, you will notice that the colour turns bright red. This means that the blood is fresh and has not been in the uterus or vagina for a long time. This denotes healthy flow and period.
Dark red: Period blood becomes dark red when it stays in the uterus or vagina for long. This is mostly seen upon waking during your period or if you’ve been lying down for a while. It sometimes can also be because of the thicker uterine lining (endometrium). Dark red blood can even be seen along with blood clots.
Blood clots in period blood are considered normal unless the clots are larger than half-an-inch.
Brown or black: Again, for the same reason, when the blood sits much longer in the uterus or vagina and gets oxidized, it may appear brown or even blackish. Dark brown bleeding can also be a hallmark symptom of PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). Nothing much to worry though.
See ‘Red’, If You See Grey, Orange or Purple
Grey: Having a greyish kind of discharge could be a sign of an infection (such as bacterial vaginosis). If you are pregnant and experience heavy bleeding with pieces of greyish tissue/clots, this could be a sign of a miscarriage (see your doctor immediately).
Orange: Orange blood? Yes, that too. Probably the rarest of the period blood but not unlikely. If you have an infection in the vagina, it gets mixed with the period blood and ends up looking orange. Possible infections can be sexually transmitted diseases like chlamydia or bacterial vaginosis. If this type is also accompanied by a bad smell or vaginal itching, it’s time to visit your doctor and discuss the symptoms.
Purple: We know you probably never expected to see dark purple or blue down there, but hey, yes! It can happen. If you’re seeing blueberry hued, dark, clotted blood in your panties or pad, you possibly have too much oestrogen in your system. This is another off colour of period blood which usually isn’t a huge cause for worry, but if along with that you are also experiencing big blood clots, sharp pain, intense cramps and an extremely heavy flow, you should visit your doctor to rule out the possibility of endometriosis, fibroids or anemia.
Top Things to Know about the Colour of Your Period Blood
– Some changes in period blood colour are considered normal
– Dark red or brown period blood is usually blood that has reacted with oxygen
– Talk to your doctor if you notice orange, greyish or bluish-purple discharge, as this can be a sign of an infection or something more serious
– Bleeding of any colour in-between your menstrual cycle needs to be looked upon by a doctor
Changes in the colour of your period blood is not mostly a cause of major concern unless it is an off colour but do pay attention to your flow, volume, any abnormal changes in cycle length and intensity of pain, or any abnormal bleeding that doesn’t have a pattern. All these may indicate an underlying condition.