5 min read
by Toni Brannagan | 10/19/2016
Most of us probably don’t give the rosy-toned rainbow in our undies a second thought anymore. After years of having a period, we know what’s up — between clots, lumps, weird textures, and... okay, you get it.
However, knowing what’s going on with your body is an essential part of reclaiming your health, and being an active participant in your menstruation is a very simple but enlightening step.
There are a number of things the color and consistency of your period blood could be indicating, and quite a few factors influence the shade, including your personal diet, hormone levels, and even stress.
So next time you’re switching out your tampon or changing into a fresh pair of THINX, take a look. Here’s what some of those colors could mean:
Lighter blood, as you can probably guess, often appears when your period is first starting or ending. It’s hue is typically due to the dilution of new, red blood with your cervical fluid.
Pink periods might also be the norm if you’re on a low-estrogen hormonal birth control, which also causes some mid-cycle spotting.
This tropical-colored stuff represents the new kid on the block. If you only have bright red periods, that is totally normal. It just means that your uterus is shedding at a quicker rate. You go-getter, you!
If you’ve had rough or adventurous sex recently (meow), you may notice some bright spotting in between periods, which is a sign that your cervix is still recovering.
Deep red period blood is pretty run-of-the-mill — it’s typically an indication that your body is in good health and goin’ with the flow.
However, it might seem obvious, but bleeding like you’re on your period when you’re *not* menstruating should definitely be flagged. If you’ve ruled out an irregular cycle, you should have a chat with your doctor about any out-of-the-ordinary heavy bleeding. Some causes could be infections, fibroids, or even pregnancy, all of which are manageable with a health professional’s help.
You’ve probably noticed that towards the end of your cycle, your blood tends to come out darker. Blood changes color based on how long it is exposed to oxygen, so brown (and even close to black) period blood indicates that your uterine lining is just taking its time. Darker breakthrough bleeding could also be a sign of low progesterone, which means your period may come sooner than you’re anticipating. Listen to your body’s warnings!
Young people who are still experiencing first and early periods, as well as those approaching menopause, also sometimes experience brown discharge in between periods. It’s usually no cause for concern, but your gynecologist will want to hear if you experience any other symptoms like a fever, pain, or bleeding after sex — those could be signs something else is amiss.
Yeah, this actually happens. I know. WTF. Anyway, if your toilet paper looks like it was swiped across—just imagine the joke I could make about 45 right here—I feel like I don’t have to spell it out for you any further: give your gyno a visit.
A, shall we say, *Trumpian-hue* down there can be an early indicator of a sexually transmitted or bacterial infection, especially if you also notice a different smell. It could also be a combo of blood and cervical fluid. Def best to check what’s going on with a professional.
I feel like I shouldn’t have to translate this one either — call your doctor!
Combined with other symptoms like a fever, itchiness, or foul odor, your body could be warning you about an infection you need to get taken care of. Grey discharge can also be a sign of miscarriage.
Color isn’t the only thing you should keep an eye out for.
Consistencies of period blood can vary, too. When you’re having a heavier flow, it might be kind of like thick egg whites or jelly—a kind that’s probably not fit for breakfast. When you’re dealing with a quick, light flow, you’re more likely to see thin red wine-esque liquid (that’s probably not fit for happy hour).
The only consistency you should really worry about is if you see anything that looks like body tissue floating around in that bowl. It could be a sign of miscarriage. That’s when you will want to talk to a doctor.
What any interesting hues have you noticed down there? How did you figure out what was going on? Share with us in the comments!
Toni Brannagan is a writer and was the former Copy and Content Manager at Thinx.
by Toni Brannagan