Most women start menstruating (having their period) somewhere between the ages of 9 to 15. From there onwards, you become familiar with your monthly visitor.
Periods aren’t the same for every woman, so you need to pay attention to any changes, like your cycle, symptoms and even the colour and consistency of the blood. It’s normal for the colour and consistency to vary over time, but strange changes in colour and thickness must be taken seriously!
Get to know your period
Every month, the lining of the uterus thickens to prepare you for pregnancy. If you don’t get pregnant, your body sheds the uterus lining along with the blood. An average menstrual cycle lasts 28 to 35 days and for some women, cycles can be as short as 21 days. A normal period can last between two to seven days.
It’s normal to have clots in your period blood (now and then). The clots are usually bright red or dark, and are released on days you bleed heavily. Having many clots can make your blood seem thicker than usual. Your period may cause symptoms like pelvic pain, cramps and mood swings. If you experience anything out of the ordinary, talk to your doctor.
Watch out for:
- Heavy bleeding.
- Spotting between cycles.
- An irregular cycle.
- Pelvic pain outside of your period.
- Cramps along with nausea and diarrhoea.
Period colour chart
Sometimes, your period blood may be darker than usual. This is a normal colour change which usually happens towards the end of your period. It happens when blood takes too long to leave your body. It’s important to take note of your period blood though, as different shades mean different things.
If your period blood is brown, don’t worry. It is just a sign of old blood. This blood has had time to oxidise (combine with oxygen) which has changed its colour from its usual shade of red to brown.
Dark red blood
Blood that is dark but not brown means that it’s been in your uterus for a while, but not long enough to have oxidised. It can also mean the end of your period as the flow of blood slows down.
Bright red blood
It’s normal to have bright red blood at the beginning of your period. This means the blood is fresh and flowing. It’s also usual for your blood to stay this colour for the length of your period if the blood hasn’t been in your uterus for long. Bright red blood could also mean an infection like an STD. If you experience bright red bleeding outside of your period, talk to your doctor.
Although it sounds strange, your period blood may also appear pink at the beginning or end of your period. The light shade usually happens when bright red blood mixes with cervical fluids (clear and watery fluid), diluting its colour.
Seeing black period blood may worry you, but it’s common. This colour is similar to brown blood as it’s been in the uterus for very long time before leaving your body.
Orange blood during your period happens for the same reason as pink blood. Orange blood is formed when the blood mixes with cervical fluid. Orange blood is also linked to pregnancy, but it’s usually only spotting (drops of blood) and not flowing blood.
Of all the shades, this one should set off your alarm bells. Grey or off-white discharge may mean a bacterial infection. If you see grey blood and also experience a fever, pain, itching or smell a foul odour, talk to your doctor immediately.