What's Up, Down There
While we often think of period blood as being red, it’s not uncommon to experience variance in hue and texture. In fact, the color of your period may offer some important information about your overall health. In our latest edition of “What’s Up, Down There,” we’re helping you decipher what each shade means and when to call your provider.
Bright red blood is fresh blood that has not been in the uterus or vagina for long. Just like when you cut your finger or scrape your knee, blood appears bright red as it hasn’t been exposed to the air causing it to oxidate. Blood is usually bright red on the heaviest days of your period when you have a steady flow.
Brown period blood typically indicates old blood. Brown blood often appears on lighter days as it’s slower to come out. Birth control can also reduce how much you bleed, so it’s not uncommon to see darker or brown period blood while taking certain forms of contraception. In some cases, brown blood can also occur as a result of implantation bleeding, or spotting that occurs early during pregnancy around the 2-week mark. This is not cause for concern.
Pink blood is not uncommon at the beginning or end of your period. Pink blood may be a sign that you’re ovulating, as cervical fluid increases around the time of ovulation and mixes with the blood giving it a lighter color. This type of spotting typically lasts 1-2 days. In some cases, women in perimenopause may also experience pink menstrual blood. Lower levels of estrogen during perimenopause can affect the flow and color of your menstrual blood.
Orange blood or discharge could be a sign of an infection such as bacterial vaginosis or trichomoniasis. If you’re experiencing other symptoms like vaginal itching or discomfort, it’s best to schedule an appointment with your Axia Women’s Health provider for further testing.
Gray discharge may not be menstrual blood at all, but rather a sign of bacterial vaginosis. It is often associated with a fishy odor and itching. Once again, it’s best to contact your provider in this situation.
Similar to gray discharge, green can be a sign of infection like bacterial vaginosis or trichomoniasis. Seek help from your provider if you’re seeing green in your period blood.
The texture and consistency of your period can change throughout your period. When the blood mixes with the endometrial tissue (tissue from inside the uterus), it can produce different textures ranging from thick and clumpy to smooth and light. It’s important to know that a little fluctuation isn’t cause for alarm.
A thicker texture is normal around the start of your period. Every woman is different so don’t be alarmed if yours is thinner.
Typically, a watery and thin texture indicates a lighter flow.
Don’t be concerned if you notice small blood clots. These are normal and common with a darker period color meaning the blood has built up over time. As you shed your uterus lining, blood clots can accumulate with bits of tissue. If you frequently notice clots or the clot is larger than a quarter, it may be worth checking with your doctor. This could be a sign of a uterine fibroid, polyp, endometriosis, or a miscarriage.
You know your body best. If you’re experiencing irregularity in your cycle or new symptoms like heavier bleeding, it could be a sign of an underlying health condition. Some signs to watch out for include:
• Your period lasts longer than seven days
• You’re soaking through a pad or tampon every 1-2 hours
• Your period is getting in the way of your day-to-day activities
• You’re experiencing blood clots larger than 1 inch
• You have severe pain that is beyond the discomfort of typical menstrual cramps
TL;DR– Minor changes in period color and texture are normal, but, repeated patterns of period irregularity or painful symptoms could be a sign of a greater health issue. Getting in tune with your menstrual cycle by tracking color of your period, length, and symptoms can help you take charge of your health and make the most of your next appointment with your Axia Women’s Health provider.
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