What Does the Color of Your Period Blood Mean?

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Menstrual periods–and period blood color–can vary from month to month, or even day to day. Most variations in color are completely normal and harmless, but a few can indicate possible health problems. Learn more about period blood color, including when to seek medical attention.

Pink

Early period blood may appear pink as a result of bright red menstrual blood mixing with normal vaginal discharge.

Low estrogen levels are another possible cause of pink period blood. If your flow has become lighter in color over a few periods, it may be a good idea to consult your healthcare provider. Occasionally, heavy exercise can decrease estrogen levels and cause irregular or abnormal periods.

Estrogen levels also decline during perimenopause, or the years leading up to menopause (the cessation of menstrual cycles). Most women begin noticing perimenopause symptoms sometime during their 40s.

Bright Red

Menstrual blood is usually a bright red color. Red period blood is healthy and a sign that all is working well. There is no reason to be alarmed by bright red period blood. However, if your flow is heavy and you’re frequently leaking through your pad or tampon and staining your clothing, you may want to talk to your healthcare provider. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 1 in 5 American women experiences heavier-than-normal periods. Medical treatment can help.

Dark Red

Dark red blood is typically menstrual blood that has remained in the uterus for a while. You may notice dark red blood first thing in the morning, for instance, because menstrual blood can pool in the uterus as you sleep overnight. Small or large blood clots are commonly seen with dark red blood and are not usually cause for alarm.

Some women also notice dark red blood toward the end of their periods.

Brown

Brownish blood at the beginning of your period may indicate low progesterone levels. If your progesterone levels are low, your body may not fully shed its uterine lining with each period. Some remains, darkening in color, until the start of your next period.

Brown blood can also appear near the end of your period, when your lighter flow of dark red blood mixes with vaginal mucus to create a brown color.

Gray

Gray period blood or vaginal discharge is usually a sign of infection, especially if the discharge is also accompanied by a foul odor. Call your healthcare provider and schedule an appointment. Appropriate diagnosis will point the way toward appropriate treatment.

Gray vaginal discharge may also be a sign of miscarriage.

Orange or Rust

Orange- or rust-colored period blood may also indicate infection. Consult a healthcare professional for appropriate diagnosis and treatment.

White

Normal, in-between-periods vaginal discharge ranges in color from clear to white. However, whitish period blood may indicate severe anemia. (It’s the hemoglobin in red blood cells that gives period blood its usual color.) It may be a good idea to see your healthcare provider.

Most variations in period blood color are normal. However, if your period is significantly different from your usual periods in any way, it’s usually a good idea to talk with your healthcare provider.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2020 Nov 13
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
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  2. What Does the Color of Your Period Blood Mean? Cleveland Clinic. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/what-does-the-color-of-your-period-mean/
  3. Different Period Blood Colors: What It Means for Your Health. Creekside Center for Women. https://creeksideobgyn.com/colors-period-blood-means/
  4. What Your Period Blood Color Says About Your Health. Well + Good. https://www.wellandgood.com/what-your-period-blood-color-means/
  5. 6 Things Your Period Blood Color Tells You About Your Health. Prevention. https://www.prevention.com/health/a20503433/color-of-your-period-blood-and-health/