One of the biggest goals we want to achieve here at WUKA is the breaking down of taboos. That’s why we challenge ourselves to have the difficult conversations, to smash the stigmas that surround menstrual health and periods in general. There are still too many topics that we don’t talk about, and period blood is one of them. So do you know what colour your period blood should be, and why it could change depending on where you are in your cycle?
What is period blood made up of?
Before we talk about the colours and consistencies of period blood throughout the cycle, let’s go back to basics for a moment. Do you know what period blood is actually made up of? Because it’s not just blood.
Period blood is made up of vaginal fluid and tissues from the lining of your uterus. There will be some mucus in there too, along with the unfertilised egg that your body released during ovulation. Oh, and incase you were wondering- it’s totally normal to pass clots as part of your period flow too. This happens because sometimes the blood pools inside the vagina before it flows out- for example, while you’re sleeping in a lying down position. Blood clots are totally normal, and unless they’re bigger than a 10p coin, they’re usually nothing to worry about.
If your flow is normally heavy and you pass clots during your period, we recommend a pair of WUKA Super Heavy or Heavy Flow period pants. They’ll absorb your flow with no chance of leaks, and provide gentle support when you need it most.
Why does period blood change in colour?
You’ve probably already noticed that your period changes colour throughout your cycle. It will vary in consistency too, plus the amount you lose will change as your cycle progresses. All of this is totally normal; the colour change is all down to timing, and when the blood actually leaves your body.
When your period starts, you’ll notice that the blood is bright red and this is because it’s fresh. Towards the end of your period, blood flow tends to look a little darker and more of a brownish colour. This is oxidised blood, or ‘old’ blood. Sometimes the start of your period can look brown too, before the bright red flow appears, and this is just your body getting rid of the ‘leftovers’ from your previous cycle.
Period blood colour can also be impacted by what stage of life you’re in- postpartum, or perimenopause for example. Sometimes colour changes can be a sign that something isn’t right, which we’ll discuss later on.
What is normal for period blood colour?
You’re probably wondering whether your period blood colour is normal- and chances are, it is. But tracking will help you to know when something is a little off, so it makes sense to pay attention when you wipe!
Normal period blood colours range from:
- Bright red: usually at the start of your period and on your heaviest days. It’s bright in colour because it’s fresh blood and it’s leaving your body quite quickly at this stage of your cycle, so has no time to oxidise. If your period is heavy, there could be some clots in your flow too. Again, this is due to your flow leaving your body quickly- so quickly that it’s not able to produce anticoagulants to prevent clots. If you’re not sure whether or not your period is heavy, the NHS has a useful tool to help you, and more information on coping with heavy periods here.
- Dark red: it’s common to experience dark red period blood too, and this is often the case in the morning, as the blood has been pooling in the vagina while you sleep. Postpartum, you might notice dark red bleeding, and some experience this towards the end of their period too.
- Dark brown/ black: While it might look alarming, dark brown or black period blood is usually old blood that has taken longer to leave your body.
We’ve got a WUKA for every body, depending on where you are in your cycle. Shop heavy flow for the bright red early days of your period, and medium flow for when things are settling down a little. We also have light flow period pants for the end of your period, where your flow is much slower but you still need protection.
When should I be concerned about period blood colour?
Sometimes you might notice a variation in period blood colour throughout your cycle and it can mean nothing. But if you do notice changes and you’re at all concerned, it’s always a good idea to get it checked out. Colours that might need investigating are:
- Light pink: towards the end of your period when you flow is lighter, you might notice a light pink tinge. Usually this is due to the blood mixing with cervical fluid, but in some cases it could be a sign of something else. Anaemia can cause light pink period blood, as can perimenopause. Some people also notice a pinkish flow between cycles too, otherwise known as spotting. This bleeding between periods can be a sign that something is not right, so if you experience this, it’s a good idea to call the doctor to find out what’s happening.
- Orange: it might surprise you, but sometimes your periods flow could present with an orange tinge, and if this is the case for you it’s best to find out why. Often, an orange flow is due to the blood mixing with cervical fluid, but in some cases it could be a sign of infection, such as Bacterial Vaginosis (BV). Look for other symptoms, including itching, a change in odour and/ or change in discharge. The NHS advises that an appointment at the sexual health clinic is a good idea if you suspect you might have BV.
- Grey: if your period flow is grey in colour, this is another sign that something isn’t right and a doctor’s appointment is needed. A grey flow usually means that there’s an infection and it’s probably accompanied by a strong odour, a burning sensation when you pee and/ or itching around the vagina.
Should I see the doctor about my period blood colour?
If you’re concerned about the colour of your flow and you’re experiencing other changes to your cycle, we always recommend making an appointment with the doctor. In most cases, there will be nothing to worry about but having the peace of mind can help to ease unnecessary stress.
Changes your cycle to pay attention to include:
- Heavier bleeding than usual
- Passing colts that are bigger than a 10p coin
- Having a period that lasts longer than 7 days
- Bleeding after menopause
- High temperature or fever with changes to discharge and vaginal odour
What colour period blood is concerning?
If you notice period blood that is pinkish, orange or grey that could be a sign that something isn’t right. Make an appointment with your doctor, especially if you have other symptoms or you notice changes to your cycle.
What colour is healthy period blood?
A normal period will be bright red at first, gradually turning darker as your cycle progresses. It’s normal to experience clots too, and as long as they’re no bigger than a 10p coin they’re nothing to worry about. Again, call the doctor if you notice changes to your cycle and what’s normal for you.
Why is my period blood so dark?
If your period is very heavy, the blood flow can appear darker in colour. And as you move through your cycle, it becomes darker due to the length of time that it takes to leave your body. Blood oxidises, so changes colour from the bright red you experience when you period first starts. Speak to your doctor if you’re concerned about heavy bleeding or any changes to your cycle.