Think your period blood only comes in shades of red? Think again!
Menstrual blood can come in different colours ranging from black to bright red and brown to orange. Although most colours can be considered normal, some may be a reason for you to see your doctor.
But before you start to worry, remember that there are a variety of factors that affect the colour of menstrual blood including hormonal activities, the age of the blood (yes, there is such a thing!) and infection. Just like other factors of your period like its duration and texture, the varying colours of your period blood are treated as vital signs that can indicate something important about your health that needs to be looked into.
Take a look at these different colours and what they could mean.
Bright Red: Your period may start with bright red bleeding. This means that the blood is fresh and flowing quickly. Your blood may stay this way during your entire period cycle or it may darken as your flow slows down.
Dark Red: This maroon color may simply mean that the blood has been sitting in the uterus for a while but has not oxidized to the point of turning brown. You may also see blood of this color toward the end of your normal menstrual period as your flow slows.
Brown: This is a typical sign of old blood. The blood has had time to oxidize, which is why it has changed hues from blood red to brown. When your flow is slow, the blood may take longer to exit your body, staying in the uterus for a longer time and turning brown. If you see this colour at the beginning of your period, it could be the remainder of what was left behind from your last period.
Black: This colour is related to brown blood, which is old blood. Black blood is usually blood that is taking its time to leave the uterus.
Pink: Your blood may appear light pink at the beginning or ending of your period, especially if you are spotting. This lighter shade likely indicates that the blood has mixed with your cervical fluid, diluting its hue.
Orange: When blood mixes with cervical fluid, it may also appear orange. As a result, you may see orange discharge for the same reasons you see pink discharge.
Gray: Seeing gray or off-white discharge is a reason to call your doctor. Gray blood is associated with infection. This colour may indicate that you have an infection brewing, like bacterial vaginosis. Other signs of infection include fever, pain, itching and a foul odor.
Adapted from Dr. Mohd Suhaimi Hassan, Consultant Obstetrician & Gynecologist, Columbia Asia Hospital – Setapak.