What the Colour of Your Period Means About Your Health

Animated diagram showing six different disposable tampons with different colours representing period blood

For most people, menstruation begins between ages 12 and 15, and we tend to have what's called a 'period' every 21-35 days. A period is the part of the menstrual cycle where we bleed from our vagina for a few days, typically between 3 and 5 days.

But, what does it mean if your period starts and your blood isn't red?

If you see pink, or brown, or even black blood, it can be hard not to freak out and wonder (OMG) what the hell is happening. But fear not! To help you figure out what your period colour means, here's a break down on the most common period colours and what they might mean about your health. We've always got you covered.

What does black period blood mean?

Black blood can be really scary to see if you haven’t seen it before, but it isn’t that uncommon. According to Cosmopolitan, black blood is just the result of blood that’s been in your body for a long time, so you’ll typically see black blood towards the end your period.

Some women also tend to see black blood at the very beginning of their period when the lining of your uterus is starting to break down. If you’re on hormonal birth pills, you might experience dark spotting mid-cycle due to a thinner uterine lining. 

Typically, black blood = old blood. So, if you see any black blood when you’re on your period, it’s probably not something to get worked up about.

What does grey period blood mean?

Black blood might not be anything to worry about, but what about a lighter grey colour of blood? Well, that’s a different story. According to MedicalNewsToday, Grey discharge is usually a sign of an infection called bacterial vaginosis. This basically occurs due to an imbalance between helpful and unhelpful bacteria in the vagina.  

Look out for other symptoms of bacterial vaginosis, which include: 

  • itching in and around the vagina 
  • a horrible vaginal odour that people often describe as "fishy" 
  •  burning or painful urination 

To sum it up, if you notice that your period blood or discharge is grey, it’s time to see your doc. 

What does pinkish blood mean?

Your blood might be pink in colour at the beginning or end of your period, especially if you’re spotting. According to Healthline, this lighter shade likely indicates that the blood has mixed with your cervical fluid, creating a lighter shade.  

However, pink blood can also be a result of low estrogen levels, especially if it’s accompanied by a lighter-than-usual flow, or if you work out a lot. Studies have found that a lot of exercise can lower estrogen levels, which can mess with your period, sometimes causing it to disappear altogether. It’s common for female athletes to stop ovulating.  

If you’re pregnant, a gush of clear or pink fluid from the vagina may also be a sign of miscarriage.  

If you’re concerned about your period being a brighter pink instead of red, if this colour is out of the norm for you or if you’re pregnant, it’s better to be safe and make an appointment with your doctor to make sure nothing else is going on. 

What does orange period blood mean?

Healthline says orange blood can also be the sign of period blood mixed with cervical fluids, so you might see orange blood for the same reasons you see pink blood. However, bright orange menstrual blood can also indicate an infection, in which case we think it’s probably a good idea to see a doctor. 

But often, orange blood can be an early sign of an infection. If it is a vaginal infection, the colour of your discharge will also change and probably smell a little funky. Often, these infections are bacterial infections or sexually transmitted infections. If you think you might have an infection, be sure to get tested to make sure it’s properly taken care of.  

What does white period blood mean?

White or watery blood is not a good sign, y’all. Dr Alyssa Dweck, MD, a clinical professor, says that a white-ish, watery flow can be a symptom of anaemia, especially if you experience lighter periods. 

If you’re experiencing lighter periods than normal and noticing white or watery period blood, talking to your doctor about getting tested for any deficiencies is a good idea.

What does bright red period blood mean?

Prevention says that bright red blood indicates a healthy and regular period. Of course, everybody’s “normal” will look different, but generally speaking, consistently bright red menstrual flow is a signal that everything’s working as it should down there! 

Bright red period blood means that the blood is fresh and flowing quickly, which is good news if you’re seeing this during your regular periods, but if it’s happening between periods, be sure to speak to your doctor. As they say, better to be safe! 

The bottom line

A range in period blood colour is usually nothing for concern, but if you’re worried about the colour of your blood, changes in smell, cycle length, or pain, be sure to check in with your doc to make sure everything’s ok! 

Have you ever been worried about the colour of your period blood? Let us know in the comments below!