Period Blood Colours Explained

You may notice the colour of your period blood varies. Sometimes it’s a bit brown, or almost black, to later turn to bright crimson. Here’s a guide to determine what they could mean for your health.

Bright red period
At the start of your period, you can expect the blood to be bright red. During this phase of the cycle, the lining of your uterus is being shed at a rapid pace and you’ll likely experience some menstrual cramps. These pains in the abdomen are the result of an increase in the production of prostaglandins, which cause the smooth muscle in the uterus to contract.

Dark red period
If you have a moderate period, it may take longer for the uterus to shed the lining. As it sits in the uterus, it gets darker.

Pink period
Pink blood or spotting can occur when period blood mixes with cervical fluid. Using hormonal birth control can lower oestrogen levels in the body, which can lead to a lighter flow with a pinkish hue during periods. Sexual intercourse can create small tears in the vagina or the cervix. Blood from these tears can mix with vaginal fluids and exit a person’s body as pink discharge.

Brown or black period
If you recall what we’ve already mentioned about changes in the appearance of menstrual blood over the course of your period, then brown or black period blood won’t come as much of a surprise. Period blood starts off bright red, but becomes darker as it remains in the body for longer. At the end of the cycle, you may see brown or even black blood on a sanitary towel or tampon.

When to see your doctor?
You may see a variety of shades and textures with your periods, even if you’re healthy. If your period is lasting longer than seven days or is very heavy — soaking through a pad or tampon every hour or two — make an appointment with your doctor to rule out certain medical conditions.

Other reasons to make an appointment:

  • if your cycles are irregular, changing dramatically in length from one month to the next
  • if your cycles are shorter than 24 or longer than 38 days in length
  • if you haven’t had a period in three months or longer
  • if you have considerable pain or other unusual symptoms that accompany your bleeding
  • If you bleeding after menopause