You might think all periods are equal, but that’s not always the case. Believe it or not, period blood can come in a rainbow of different colors, ranging anywhere from bright red to brown to black, or even blue across your menstrual cycle! Kt’s light-colored reusable pads (available in short, regular and extra-long) make it easier than ever to track the color of your flow.
What do all the different colors mean? Is brown period blood a sign of a medical condition or is it common and normal? How can you tell when your child should go to a doctor and when things are all good? Don’t wrack your brain too much – no matter what color blood they've got going on, we’ve got the answers. Let’s get into it.
Black or Brown Period Blood Color
When your child sees black or brown period blood and you aren’t expecting it, it can come as a shock. There’s no need to worry, though – black and brown period blood is normal and healthy in the course of a menstrual cycle – it’s just old blood.
The longer blood has been hanging around in their uterus, the more time it has had to react with oxygen and turn a darker color like brown or even black. You’ll likely see this older blood at the end of your period, when the flow is slower and blood is taking longer to leave their uterus, get in contact with oxygen and become oxidized. They might also see brown or black blood at the beginning of their period because it’s left over from last month.
Dark Red Period Blood Color
Period blood that is a darker red shade is similar to brown and black period blood– it’s usually darker because it’s been sitting in their uterus for longer. It’s normal to see dark red blood at the beginning and end of your period, or when they wake up in the morning when they're on their cycle. Once again, dark red blood is nothing to worry about.
Bright Red Period Blood Color
Period blood that’s bright red period blood is the newest blood, and hasn’t had time to darken before leaving the uterus. They'll probably see bright red blood closer to the middle of their period, once their flow has really started to take off. Some people start their period with a slower flow and darker blood, but it’s also common to see bright red blood from the beginning of a period. All in all– red is normal.
Pink Period Blood Color
They might see pink period blood when their period is lighter than usual, or when they're spotting between periods or right at the end of a cycle. Pink period blood can also be lighter due to mixing with vaginal discharge and becoming diluted. It can also mean they are ovulating. If they're particularly stressed, highly athletic, or experienced a major change in weight, they can experience a lighter period, and this might explain pink period blood (or, sometimes, no period at all – and in this case, if it goes on for a few months, they might want to see a doctor).
Pink blood and lighter than usual flow can sometimes also indicate a nutrient or hormone deficiency. For example, light pink periods are often seen in people who have low estrogen. If your child is having consistently light periods and they're seeing a lot of pink blood instead of bright or darker red, consider checking in with their doctor.
Purple or Blue Period Blood Color
It might sound weird, but it’s true! Period blood can sometimes be purple or even blue. Even though it sounds unusual, it isn’t always a sign that anything major is wrong. Purple or blue blood can indicate a couple of different things – your teen might see it when they're experiencing clotting, or if they have too much estrogen in their system. Purple period blood is similar to brown period blood, in that it’s just older, darker blood that has had time to oxidize and change color. They may see these dark tones in the morning when they wake up, or around the beginning or end of their cycle.
Clots, or “clumps” of bloody vaginal discharge, are completely normal and can range in color from red to a purple-y hue. Regardless of the color, keep an eye on the size of blood clots and make sure that your teen chats with a doctor if they're consistently getting clots larger than the size of a quarter.
Purple or blue period blood might also show up if estrogen levels are particularly high. It can be scary to see it for the first time, but increased estrogen isn’t always something to worry about. Other symptoms of higher levels of estrogen are irregular periods, bloating, foggy memory, headaches, and more. If you’re feeling worried about anything regarding your child's period, schedule an appointment with a doctor or gynecologist – they’ll be able to answer your questions and set your and your child's mind and body at ease.
Orange Period Blood Color
If your teen's period blood has an orange-y tint to it, but they're not noticing anything different about the scent or texture of their period, it’s likely not anything to worry about. However, if they are noticing odor or textural changes in their period blood accompanied by an orange color, it can be a sign of infection such as trichomoniasis or bacterial vaginosis.
Bacterial infections and STIs (sexually transmitted infections) may cause orange period blood, often accompanied by other symptoms like itchiness and a foul smell. Be sure to check in with their doctor if these signs are present. Smell is generally a pretty good indicator if something is amiss.
Gray Period Blood Color
Gray period blood might also be a sign of infection and a reason to book a check-up with a doctor. Again, gray blood on their period may be paired with other symptoms like itching, a foul smell, or even a fever. If your teen is sexually active and can get pregnant, gray period blood can also be a sign of miscarriage. Either way, when this color shows up in their underwear, it’s definitely time to see a doctor.
Conclusion: A Range of Period Blood Colors is Normal
Typically, different colors of period blood aren’t usually indicators that there is anything bad going on with your teen's body.
Unlike the regular black gusset on most period underwear, Kt’s light-coloured reusable pads (available in short, regular and extra-long lengths) make it extra easy to take note of any changes to the color of your period blood.
Changes in period blood colors can be explained by hormones, diet, and lifestyle in general – and that’s totally normal. If your teen does come across more of an unusual or uncommon color like orange or gray, there will often be other symptoms, such as changes in texture, odors, or physical effects that can help confirm whether it should be cause for alarm.
In addition to colors, your child should pay attention to changes in the volume of flow, changes in the length of their cycle, pain associated with their cycle, and other factors like the aforementioned smell and texture – these factors are more likely to signal an issue than just color alone.
Every person’s period is different, so encourage your child to make an effort to get familiar with their to figure out what’s typical for them from month to month. They know their body best, and they'll be the one who will know when something feels off. And when in doubt, talk to a doctor!