What your period blood colour and consistency means

Period blood and clots

The colour and consistency of your period 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 bright red period blood is a sign of a healthy period, because the endometrial lining is being shed and is expelled quickly.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) very fiery, red period blood is a sign of too much ‘heat’. TCM looks at the body differently to other practitioners, using heat, cool, wind, damp, and so on to discuss a state of the body or organ.

This might be linked to a pelvic infection which causes inflammation and heat, for example.

If you have very bright fiery red period blood, you can generally take that as a good sign unless you have other symptoms that may suggest otherwise.

Dark, thick, or brown period blood

Dark red blood may be normal for you, in which case, you have nothing to worry about. When blood looks old or thick, it can be because your uterus isn’t contracting hard enough, causing slow (sluggish) flow of menstrual blood out of your vagina.

Sluggish blood may indicate that your uterus needs a pep up (to encourage muscular contractions) or to relax (to free up and encourage expulsion of period blood).

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

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. This isn’t a problem in and of itself.

Heavy periods

Heavy periods (menorrhagia) can occur from time to time without warning or reason, but some women have consistently heavy periods.

Heavy periods are caused by excessive stimulation of the endometrium by oestrogen, causing a proliferation of period-producing cells. A lack of progesterone can also contribute to heavy periods by not blocking the effect of oestrogen enough. 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 heavy periods, see your practitioner for a chat about what’s going on and to get tested if necessary.

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.

Worried about your period blood? See your healthcare practitioner.