When it comes to that time of the month, things aren’t always going to be the same. Just as the rest of our body experiences changes, our menstrual blood does too.¹ It paints a picture of what’s really going on within our bodies. A lot of the time different shades of blood can be no cause for concern, but sometimes they could be indicative of possible health issues. Not only can being clued up save you many panic-attacks in the future, but it’s also an important step towards better understanding what your body is trying to tell you.⁴
Pink or orange
When your blood mixes with your cervical fluid, it can appear less concentrated and pink in colour. This isn’t a cause for concern and is still considered to be normal, depending on when you experience it and how much of it there is. If you’re pregnant, for example, a lot of pink blood could indicate a complication with the pregnancy.¹ However, some women experience a shade of pink during ovulation, when they are spotting or their flow is at their lightest.¹ In some cases, pink blood could also suggest an iron deficiency. Similarly to pink blood, an orange shade might also indicate that your blood has mixed with your cervical fluid. In addition, it could indicate that you are pregnant if you don’t start your period as you usually would. Infections or STDs can also cause your blood to appear orange.¹ If you are worried, it’s best to consult a doctor.
As the iron in your blood combines with the oxygen in your blood, it causes the hue to appear bright red. This is the same reason why older blood will naturally be darker - because it contains less oxygen. Bright red is considered a healthy hue for your blood to be, in most cases. You’ll most likely experience this shade when you have a steady flow, usually around the start of your period.² If your blood is bright red, overly thick or occurring between periods, you might want to visit your doctor. This could signal a hormonal imbalance, deficiency or infection.¹,²
As mentioned before, a darker shade of red is still considered to be healthy.² You might experience this shade as your period progresses into its later stages, or your blood is slightly older.¹ However, if you find the dark red edging on more of a maroon, it could be an indication that your estrogen levels are too high. Furthermore, if your blood is more on the maroon side and it contains clots, it might be an indication of poor blood circulation.³
Black or brown
The less oxygen your blood contains, the darker it will appear to be.² For this reason, it’s not uncommon for your blood to seem brown or even black. Usually, this shade can occur towards the end of your period, or even be caused by slow blood circulation at the beginning of it. If brown or black blood appears somewhere in the middle, don’t worry. it might be that you’ve spent a lot of time in a stationary position, like sleeping or sitting for too long. When you’re in a position where your flow or circulation might be interrupted, the blood could be old when you first see it.¹ The darker the shade, the older it is. When menstruation blood is black, it might sometimes suggest that there is a vaginal blockage.³
Grey blood or discharge could indicate a bacterial infection. In this case, the healthy and bad bacteria in your vagina might be off-balance, leading to abnormal discharge, a grey hue and a foul smell.¹ In this case, it’s important to contact your doctor as soon as you can, especially if you are pregnant.
Menstruation with blood clots
Blood clots tend to sound a lot scarier than they actually are. For the most part, it’s normal to have some clotting from time to time during your period.⁵ However, if you experience large blood clots during menstruation, larger than 2.5cm x 2.5cm, you’ll probably want to contact your doctor to be certain that there aren’t any underlying health issues.¹,³
So, what colour should menstrual blood be?
The colour of your blood, in order to be considered normal and healthy, really depends on your situation. For example, someone who has just given birth will naturally be in a very different situation to someone who is spotting before their period. Usually, bright red, brown and even black menstrual blood is considered to be perfectly normal. If you are experiencing a sudden change in hue that’s grey, orange or foul-smelling, it might be time to consult your doctor.³,⁴
-  https://www.healthline.com/health/womens-health/period-blood
-  https://creeksideobgyn.com/colors-period-blood-means/
-  https://greatist.com/health/period-blood
-  https://www.verywellhealth.com/what-does-menstrual-blood-look-like-2721937
-  https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/heavy-periods/