The colour and consistency of your menstrual blood tells us a bit about what’s going on inside of your body. It doesn’t mean anything is wrong – in fact quite the opposite a lot of the time – but just offers clues.
Bright red period blood
Generally this is a sign of a healthy period. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), if the period blood is very fiery and red, it is a sign of too much heat. TCM looks at the body differently to other practitioners, using heat, cool, wind, damp, etc. to discuss a state of the body or organ. This might be linked to a pelvic infection which causes inflammation and heat.
It’s useful to note if you have very bright fiery red period blood, and generally you can take that as a good sign.
Dark, thick, or brown period blood
Dark red blood may be normal for you, in which case, you have nothing to worry about. It’s just when blood looks old or thick, likely caused by a slow (sluggish) flow of menstrual blood. This may indicate that your uterus is not expelling the blood as quickly as it should, with your uterus needing a pep up (to encourage muscular contractions) or to relax (to free up and encourage expulsion of period blood).
Our period blood is expelled from the uterus by muscular contractions of the uterus, so it matters if it isn’t functioning as it may need to to get all your blood out of your body in a timely fashion.
Pale, thin, watery period blood
Pale pink blood may mean your hormones are a little amiss, especially if you are feeling tired, weak, sick or anaemic. Watery period blood is often seen after pelvic surgeries.
Blood clots in your period typically mean too much blood is coming out too fast, and the anti-clotting factors that normally keep your blood free-flowing are not able to keep up. This could mean your uterus is expelling the blood a little quickly.
Heavy periods (medically known as menorrhagia) can happen from time to time, but some women have consistently heavy periods. This is caused by excessive stimulation of the endometrium by oestrogen, causing a proliferation of period-producing cells, or a lack of progesterone. Progesterone counteracts the effects of oestrogen, so keeps oestrogen in balance.
If you are not ovulating regularly, your progesterone is going to be more sporadic than usual. Some reasons for very heavy periods include hypothyroidism, low stores of iron, and some blood clotting disorders. Sometimes an intrauterine device (IUD) may cause excess bleeding for a while after it is put in. Infections or fibroids can also cause heavier than usual bleeding. If you are experiencing newly heavy periods, see your practitioner for testing.
Bleeding or spotting mid-cycle
Bleeding between periods (metrorrhagia) can be caused by a few things, but a key reason is due to the hormone changes caused by ovulation. Hormonal triggers are common, as well as issues with the cervix that cause it to bleed easily. It’s important to understand mid-cycle spotting or bleeding, and don’t ignore it if it seems unusual.