It’s normal for period or menstrual blood to have colors and textures that vary from red to brown or black, from thin to very thick. The changes in colors and textures are rarely serious, but women should pay attention to certain signs of some health conditions derived from some important anomaly in this condition.
Menstruation, or your period, is a normal part of life for any woman and consists of periodic or cyclic shedding of the endometrium (the lining of the uterus). Because of its natural timeframe, it is generally referred to as a menstrual period or simply your period, which begins at the stage of sexual maturity (puberty) and ends at the end of the reproductive life of a woman (menopause).
The color and texture of a woman’s period can vary during different stages of her life and times when certain conditions can interfere with the normal cycle. In this article we will discuss some normal and abnormal conditions that can affect the characteristics of your period.
What is a normal menstrual period?
A menstrual period normally happens when a woman is not pregnant. The uterus is covered with endometrial tissue that thickens under the influence of hormones to prepare for a possible pregnancy. This lining, which is rich in blood, sheds periodically (approximately every 28 days) when there is no pregnancy, and this can last from two to seven days.
The length of a normal menstrual cycle can vary from 21 to 35 days, and the duration of a period is generally 3-5 days. A woman can lose as little as 4 teaspoons or up to 12 tablespoons of blood during their period. It’s normal that the color and texture of the blood range from bright red to brown or blackish, and from thin to very thick in texture. These changes can be a sign that the blood has been in the uterus for some time and was not eliminated quickly. This can be a normal occurrence that is no cause for concern.
Colors of menstrual blood and their meanings
However, some women feel like something is not quite right and need to know the possible reasons for changes in their normal menstruation.
Bright red menstrual blood means that the blood was recently released from the body. This type of blood flow is generally light and a woman can have periods like this often.
Dark red blood is generally “old blood”. It may have been stored in the uterus for more time and has taken its time in coming out. Many women find dark red blood when they wake up.
This is also old blood. The majority of women see brown or black blood towards the end of their period and the flow of blood is not so heavy. This can also be blood that stayed in the uterine folds, or in women with infrequent periods, it can be blood that was there initially before being released much later.
Bright red menstrual blood that mixes with cervical fluids can appear orange with red streaks. Bright orange blood can be associated with some infection, so if you suspect this, the best thing is to consult your doctor.
Textures of menstrual blood and their meanings
Coagulated blood is a sign of heavy periods. When there are strong hemorrhages in the body, it produces anticoagulants to prevent the clotting of blood but during heavy periods, this mechanism doesn’t have enough time to work, resulting in the formation of clots. These blood clots can appear in any color of blood, but are generally seen in dark blood. This is due to the fact that more blood accumulates in the uterine walls, creating a heavy flow. If this occurs often, one should suspect a serious problem that should be evaluated by a doctor.
Slick blood that has a consistency similar to a gel can be blood that has mixed with cervical mucus. Cervical mucus normally is present in the vagina, and when it mixes with light menstrual fluid, it can give a texture similar to a slippery gel. This can also happen in discharge when cervical mucus flows from the vagina.
Thin menstrual blood resists coagulation. It is usually red and associated with light or moderate blood flow and looks thinner and sometimes mixed with cervical mucus.
The appearance of endometrial tissue in the blood can be a sign of miscarriage or spontaneous abortion, for which you should seek immediate medical attention.
Most of the time, changes in color or texture of blood are normal and not a cause for concern. There are a few cases, however, in which you should be wary of an anomaly and which require further investigation.
What causes anomalies in the color and texture of the blood?
Changes in color and texture of menstrual blood can be caused by a few problems, which should be discussed with your doctor:
Passing large amounts of clots or clumps of gray tissue can be a sign that a woman has had a miscarriage. If it is possible that you are pregnant, seek a doctor immediately if you experience heavy bleeding or pass clots or tissue.
Myomas or fibroids are benign tumors (not cancerous) that develop inside the uterus. They don’t always present symptoms, except some women may notice that they produce more menstrual blood than usual. They may also have more blood clots during their period than before.
Estrogens and progesterone are the hormones that regulate the periodic shedding of the endometrium (uterine lining). When there is a disturbance in the balance between these hormones, the lining of the uterus may be excessively thick, and this can contribute to more bleeding. This can also lead to the formation of clots during the period.
Hormonal changes are caused by various factors, including
- A significant and rapid change in weight
- Side effects of medications
- Enlarged uterus
- Obstruction of blood flow
- Abnormal growth of uterine tissue (endometriosis)
When to see a doctor
Changes in color and texture of blood are not usually serious. However, sometimes they can lead to loss of a significant amount of blood over time, without realizing it because it happens slowly. It is recommended to consult a doctor if you experience:
- Being easily exhausted after normal activity
- Frequent nausea
- Pale skin
- Pale nails
- Irregular periods
These can be signs of anemia, which can be confirmed with a blood test. You can take iron supplements to improve this condition.