Bright Red Period Blood

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Bright Red Period Blood
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Why your period blood may be brown, pink, dark red, and more

Tracee Cornforth is a freelance writer who covers menstruation, menstrual disorders, and other women’s health issues.

Verywell Health articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and healthcare professionals. These medical reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more.

Anita Sadaty, MD, is a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist at North Shore University Hospital and founder of Redefining Health Medical.

Bright red isn’t the only possible period blood color. You may notice dark red or pink blood at different points during menstruation. Period blood color can even be black, orange, green, gray, or brown for various reasons ranging from early pregnancy to infection and more.

What’s typical for you may not be the same as for someone else. And even your own period blood color may change from day to day or period to period.

This article looks at various period blood colors, what’s typical, and when they tend to occur. It also covers what period blood colors, levels of flow, and period frequencies may be cause for concern.

Bright Red Period Blood Color

When your period blood is bright red, it means that it passed through your vagina fairly soon after entering your uterus. You’re most likely to see bright red blood at the start of your period.

You may also see brighter blood at times when you have cramps. That’s because cramps occur when your uterus contracts, and contractions lead to heavier blood flow.

Isn’t Period Blood Just Regular Blood?

Period blood is made up of the same blood that is flowing through your veins, but it also contains tissue that has been shed from the endometrium —the lining of your uterus. That’s why its color and consistency are different from what you would see if you, say, cut your finger.

Dark Red, Brown, Black Period Blood Color

Older period blood can appear:

  • Darker red
  • Brown
  • Black

These colors suggest a slower flow. For most people, the blood gets darker over the course of the cycle. This is because older blood from the deeper parts of the uterine lining is shed later.

Brown blood is also common in the weeks after you give birth. Postpartum bleeding is called lochia .

However, in some cases:

  • Dark red or brown blood may be an early sign of pregnancy
  • Black blood may be a sign of a vaginal blockage

If these colors are unexpected or abnormal for you, talk to your healthcare provider.

menstrual blood color

Verywell / Gary Ferster

Pink Period Blood Color

It’s common for period blood to look pink at the beginning or end of your period when your bleeding is lighter. The color change comes from normal mucus mixing with the blood.

Pink blood during other phases of your cycle may be caused by:

  • Significant weight loss
  • An unhealthy diet
  • Anemia

See a healthcare provider if you suspect any of these causes may be affecting your period blood. You may also benefit from seeing a nutritionist.

Orange, Gray, or Green Period Blood Colors

Orange period blood can be a normal outcome of cervical fluid mixing with blood.

Orange spotting not linked to a period may mean you’re pregnant. It can occur when a fertilized egg implants in the uterine wall. This takes place between about 10 and 14 days after conception.

However, orange, gray, or green tinges to your period blood or vaginal discharge are often a sign of infection, such as:

  • Trichomoniasis
  • Bacterial vaginosis (BV)
  • Some sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

Other symptoms of an infection include:

  • Vaginal itching and discomfort
  • Discharge with a bad odor, including a “fishy” smell
  • Painful urination

See a healthcare provider if you have these symptoms. You may need an antibiotic to clear up the infection.

COLOR REASONS NORMAL?
Bright Red Fresh blood
Fast flow
Yes
Yes
Dark Red Older blood
Slow flow
Early pregnancy
Yes
Yes
Yes
Brown Older blood
Slow flow
Postpartum
Early pregnancy
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Black Older blood
Slow flow
Vaginal blockage
Yes
Yes
No
Pink Mixed with mucus
Lighter bleeding
Nutritional problem
Yes
Yes
No
Orange Mixed with fluid
Implantation
Infection
Yes
Yes
No
Gray Infection No
Green Infection No

What Else You May Notice

In addition to changes in period blood color, you may also notice changes in the blood’s consistency and contents.

Consistency

Your menstrual blood may be thin and watery or thick and sticky. Thin and watery period blood is usually pinker, while thick and sticky discharge is usually more brown.

These changes in consistency are common at the end of your cycle. This is because most of the endometrial tissue already has been passed.

The thickness of your period blood is likely to change as you approach menopause because the uterine lining tends to build up less. This is also common when your hormones are affected by stress or too much exercise.

Clots

Period blood may contain some clots. During your period, the separation of the endometrium from the uterine wall can tear small blood vessels. They bleed, and clots form to stop the bleeding. They’re then passed out with your menstrual blood.

Clots can also form as hormonal changes signal the end of your period and the lining starts to build up again.

Period blood clots are generally small. If they’re larger than 1 inch in diameter, let your healthcare providers know. They may diagnose menorrhagia (heavy menstrual bleeding).

When to Call Your Healthcare Provider

Speak to your healthcare provider if you notice a potentially concerning period blood color or anything that is out of the norm for you.

Changes in your menstrual bleeding can be a symptom of another health issue, including polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Not all of these conditions are serious or need medical attention, but a professional should weigh in.

Signs that you should see a healthcare provider about your period include:

  • Missed periods: Not bleeding for more than three months when you know you’re not pregnant
  • Irregular periods: This includes periods that are too close together or far apart, as well as periods that last for longer or shorter than normal. (Having a lifetime of irregular periods isn’t a concern, however.)
  • Unexpected bleeding: Bleeding or spotting between periods
  • Heavy bleeding: Normal periods can vary from one person to the next. But if you are bleeding so much and so quickly that you flood your menstrual products or need to change them more than once an hour, you should be evaluated. This is particularly true if you have a family history of a bleeding disorder or have ever had anemia.
  • Clots in period blood that are >1 inch: These may be a sign of uterine or cervical fibroids, polyps, or cancer; a hormonal imbalance; endometriosis; miscarriage; or ectopic pregnancy.
  • Severe pain during your period: This goes beyond the discomfort of typical menstrual cramps.

If you get a fever and feel unwell after using a tampon, it could be a sign of toxic shock syndrome. This is a rare but potentially fatal condition that requires immediate medical attention.

What Is a Normal Period?

What’s normal for you may not be what textbooks define as a “normal” period. Generally speaking, though, a period is considered normal if it:

  • Comes anywhere between every 24 day to 38 days
  • Varies as much as 20 days over the course of the year
  • Lasts between four-and-a-half to eight days
  • Includes between 5 milliliters (ml) and 80 ml of blood

Summary

Period blood is a mixture of blood and tissues that lines your uterus. It has a different color and consistency than the blood in your veins.

When it passes from the vagina, your period blood color may be pink, red, brown, black, or even other colors. It may change colors during the same period. It can be thin or thick. Blood clots that pass during your period may be normal or they may signal another health issue.

It’s important to know what’s normal for you. Talk with your healthcare provider if you have concerns about changes in your period.

Frequently Asked Questions

Brown vaginal discharge is usually just the body removing old blood cells and cleaning the vagina. However, it can also be a sign of an infection, PCOS, or cervical cancer. Talk to your healthcare provider if you have concerns.

Spotting between your regular periods is usually pink, red, or brown. This gets more common as you approach menopause and your periods become less regular.

Your menstrual cycle is controlled by hormones that regulate the thickening of your endometrium and when it breaks down and sloughs off. The excess blood and tissue then flow down through your cervix and out through your vagina.

Maybe, depending on what’s causing your heavy bleeding. In many cases, hormonal birth control pills can reduce the amount of period blood flow.

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

Berz K, Mccambridge T. Amenorrhea in the female athlete: What to do and when to worry. Pediatr Ann. 2016 Feb;45(3):97-102. doi:10.3928/00904481-20160210-03

James AH. Heavy menstrual bleeding: work-up and management. Hematology Am Soc Hematol Educ Program. 2016;2016(1):236-242. doi:10.1182/asheducation-2016.1.236

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Heavy menstrual bleeding.

American Academy of Family Physicians. Toxic Shock Syndrome.

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Vulvovaginal health.

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Perimenopausal bleeding and bleeding after menopause.

Lethaby A, Wise MR, Weterings MA, Bofill Rodriguez M, Brown J. Combined hormonal contraceptives for heavy menstrual bleeding. Cochrane Gynaecology and Fertility Group, ed. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2019;2019(2). doi:10.1002/14651858.CD000154.pub3

By Tracee Cornforth
Tracee Cornforth is a freelance writer who covers menstruation, menstrual disorders, and other women’s health issues.

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