Having your periods is totally normal. – But that doesn’t mean there’s such a thing as a “normal period.” The way your menstrual blood looks can change from month to month and at certain times during your cycle. Your period can tell you a lot about your health. In addition to telling you whether you are pregnant or not, your period can provide key insights into your hormone health- and your hormones keep everything from your brain to your reproductive system running smoothly.
Menstrual blood can run the spectrum of hues—from watery pink, fresh red, rusty brown, blue, and even black. But what do all these variations mean? More importantly, what can your period color mean for your fertility? While what’s normal for one woman may not be normal for another, there are a few changes you should watch out for, particularly when it comes to the color of your flow. Below, find 6 things your period blood is trying to tell you about your health.
If it’s pinkish!
You need enough density of red blood cells to make healthy blood. If your menstrual blood is watery or pink, you may have difficulty making enough red blood cells or they may not contain enough iron. You may have low estrogen levels. Especially if it’s accompanied by a lighter-than-usual flow, or if you’re an avid runner, Studies have found that excessive exercise can lower estrogen levels, which can subsequently mess with your period, sometimes causing it to disappear altogether. Low estrogen levels can increase your risk of osteoporosis if left untreated. Some other causes of pale blood include being anemic, eating an imbalanced diet, or poor digestion/absorption of nutrients.
Other potential culprits of a pinkish flow can include poor nutrition, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), or perimenopause, which is when your ovaries start producing less estrogen in preparation for menopause (generally, it occurs around four to five years before menopause).
This is really important to our fertility! Our blood is the source of oxygen and nutrients for each and every organ in our bodies. If you don’t have enough red blood cells, every system will suffer—including your reproductive system.
If it’s watery!
If you observe that the color of your period blood is watery red, then there are chances that you are dealing with some nutritional deficiency. Also, in case the color of your blood was initially heavy and has only started to get lighter and lighter in a while, you may have a nutritional deficiency, a symptom of severe anemia, especially if you notice your period getting lighter and lighter when it would ordinarily get a bit heavier. If, after monitoring your period for two or three cycles, you’re worried that this could be the case, talk to your doctor about getting tested for nutritional deficiencies.
To make matters a little more confusing, an iron deficiency might instead be caused by heavy periods. If you bleed through pads or tampons in less than an hour, wake up at night to change your pads or tampons several times, or regularly feel tired and foggy, it can’t hurt to get your iron level checked.
If it’s dark brown!
If your menstrual blood is dark brown or rusty, your body temperature may be affecting the quality of the blood. If your temperatures are too high in the early part of your cycle (above 97.8 or so), your blood will have a tendency to take on a brown or rusty color—almost as if the blood has been slightly scorched.
High body temperature also interrupts the timing of ovulation, which negatively affects your fertility. You may have older bits of uterine lining and blood that are just now making their way out of your body. But don’t panic: This is normal, we’re not sure why this happens in all cases, but sometimes the blood is sitting around for a while and comes out particularly slowly. It has a lot of time to oxidize, which is why it can look brown or almost black.
Everyone will shed her uterine lining at a different rate (like snowflakes, each period is unique), but for the most part, seeing some dark brown blood at the beginning of your period or toward the end of it is nothing to worry about.
If it’s a thick jam-colored!
If you observe that the color of your period blood is thick, jam-colored red with clots, then this can mean that you are dealing with low progesterone levels and high estrogen levels. This is a sign of serious hormonal imbalance. You can try to balance it by reducing your consumption of dairy, soy, and sugar. Clotting is normal but only to an extent. The larger the clot, the higher the risk of hormonal imbalance. Other than hormonal imbalance, Uterine Fibroids could be another reason for a thick, jam-colored flow with clots. They’re most often benign, but they can be painful, so if you suspect they’re behind your heavy, clot-filled periods, ask your doctor for an ultrasound.
If it’s a mix of gray and red!
Conversely, if your body temperatures are too low, your menstrual blood can take on a bluish color—as if the blood has been frozen. Low body temperatures can cause the blood to stagnate and congeal. You will usually see quite a bit of pain and clotting associated with bluish blood. When you regulate your temperature your blood color will normalize and your clots and pain will also dissipate.
In some severe cases, the blood is so stuck that it can become black in color. This immovability will be accompanied by significant pain and clothing. This can be seen in women with a history of fibroids and severe endometriosis. Women with black menstrual blood can have an incredibly difficult time conceiving, and may also put the mother at a greater risk for clotting problems that can affect the placenta in pregnancy.
You may have an infection, such as an STD/STI. You’ll probably also experience a really foul, necrotic stench. Women, who miscarry sometimes notice gray chunks of tissue that looks like liver, so if you think there’s a possibility that you’re pregnant or having a miscarriage, call your doctor ASAP.
If it’s a bright, cranberry red!
You may have a healthy, regular period. Again, everybody’s “normal” will look different, but generally speaking, a consistently bright red flow that looks a little like cherry Kool-Aid is a signal that everything is working as it should. Your menstrual blood makes up the lining of your uterus. It should be juicy, alive, and thick in order to provide a nourishing place for your fertilized egg to implant. Imagine thick folds of glorious, red velvet.
Fresh, brilliant red is the most fertile expression of menstrual blood and is, therefore, the color of choice.
What color is your period? Depending on where you fill in the color spectrum, you’ll be able to take action to develop an ideal period. Taking an informed look at the color of your menstrual blood is one of the first steps towards an ideal, fertile, and healthy period.