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Black, Brown, Bright Red, and More: What Does Each Period Blood Colour Mean?


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Period irregularities- heavy, delayed, or light menstruations are often associated with gynaecological conditions and infertility. But the colour of the blood during periods can indicate a lot more things than you can expect.

Women often undergo changes in blood flow and colour between periods or in the same menstruation itself. Where women notice red, black, brown, pink, grey, and even orange colour during periods, they also observe heavy clots or watery blood flow either at the beginning or end of menstruations.

But, what do the periods blood colour indicate? This article explores everything about the blood colour during periods, each colour indication, and when to seek help from a doctor. 

What are different colours of blood observed during periods?

Women often feel worried about the changing blood colour during particular menstruation and between two consecutive periods. It is normal for the colour to change from brown to red in menstruation during the initial years of menarche and also in the later years. Brown, red, pink, and brownish-black are normal colours that vary from the beginning to the end of periods. 

The longer the blood stays in the uterus and vagina, the more it reacts with the oxygen, and the colour of the blood during periods goes darker in red and brown. Here is a table showing the different colours of blood during periods and the possible reasons.

Periods Blood colour Possible reasons for its occurrence Is it normal (Yes/ No)
Orange It can occur in between periods, during ovulation. It can also be due to implantation spotting, miscarriage or an infection. Very rarely indicates a normal period.  No
Pink It can be due to low oestrogen levels in the body and occur in between periods (mid-cycle implantation spotting). It can occur after childbirth (lochia). But, in between pregnancy, can be a miscarriage, implantation or pregnancy spotting.   Yes
Red It can be normal. Heavy flow with clots can be due to an infection, polyps or fibroids. During pregnancy, it can indicate implantation or a miscarriage.  Yes
Dark Red It is normal. However, heavy flow can be due to a possible infection. Dark red during pregnancy can be due to a miscarriage or implantation. Can be seen even after childbirth (lochia).  Yes
Brown It is normal to have a brown colour period blood flow. Abnormal conditions include infections, slow flow, old blood flow, missed miscarriage or implanataion (in case of pregnant woman).  Yes
Black It is majorly brownish black which is normal, seen in the beginning or end of the periods due to old blood and slow flow. If occurs during conception, it can be a miscarriage.  Yes
Grey Can be due to infection, including STI’s or a miscarriage (in case the woman is pregnant) No

What does brown period blood mean?

Periods brown colour is usually the old blood that takes time to flow out of the uterus or vagina and gets oxidised. It is typically observed during the beginning or end of menstruation. 

What if it occurs at the beginning or end of the period? 

The blood flow is usually slower at the start and end of the period, and since the blood takes time to move out, it stays longer in the reproductive tract and gets more time to oxidise. Sometimes, the leftover blood from the previous period can cause brown blood flow in periods.   

PCOS, a hormonal disorder can cause a build-up of the uterine lining and delayed or missed periods. People with PCOS often experience brown blood discharge in between periods. 

Around menopause, fluctuations in hormones- especially oestrogen, leads to blood flow changes during periods with changes in texture, colour, and frequency. The hormonal turbulences during menopause affect the uterine lining, causing brown spotting during the menstrual cycle. Perimenopause spotting may also have other changes like,

  • Hot flashes, 
  • Dryness in and around the vagina, and
  • Sleep issues. 

What happens if brown period blood occurs during pregnancy?

Brown spotting during pregnancy can indicate implantation. The implantation bleeding typically occurs 10 to 14 days after conception. Other signs of implantation include:

  • Mild pelvic cramps,
  • Tender breasts,
  • Nausea, and 
  • Vomiting. 

Sometimes, it can be due to a “missed miscarriage”, “missed abortion“, or “silent miscarriage”, where the foetus stops developing and does not pass out of the uterus for more than four weeks. This causes dark brown spotting and no heavy bleeding.

Postpartum bleeding or lochia usually occurs during the first 4 to 6 weeks of childbirth, causing pinkish or brown spotting.

What does dark red blood mean?

Dark red blood flow during periods may be due to the long lingering of blood but is not oxidised. It may also indicate slow blood flow during the start or end of the periods. The blood flow for the first three days after childbirth is usually dark red and heavy.

Does it signify anything abnormal? 

Dark red blood flow, clotting, and heavy periods are considered normal unless the clotting is larger than a quarter or flow is significant for more than five to seven days. You will need to consult your doctor for abnormal blood flow conditions. 

What does bright red period blood mean?

Fresh blood flows fast at the beginning of the period and is typically bright red. Sometimes, bright red flow can be prominent throughout the menstruation period. When bleeding occurs in between periods, it may indicate infections like sexually transmitted infections (STIs)- chlamydia and gonorrhea, having other associated symptoms such as, 

  • Foul-smelling discharge
  • Pain or burning during urination
  • Pain during intercourse

What are the other indications of bright red blood flow during periods?

Fibroids and polyps are noncancerous growths of the uterus that may lead to heavy flow during your periods with symptoms like acute abdominal pain and pressure. 

Adenomyosis is another indication of bright red blood flow where the uterine lining grows within the uterus muscles causing heavy, painful periods and severe pelvic pain.

If bright red bleeding or spotting occurs during pregnancy, it can be due to a pregnancy loss or any other pregnancy complication. Some even experience abdominal pain and dizziness. However, it is advised to seek immediate medical assistance.

What does pink period blood mean?

Pink blood may be due to the dilution of the cervical fluid. In such cases, the pink flow is temporary and more prominent at the beginning or end of the period.  

Postpartum bleeding is associated with pink or brownish blood flow. Pink blood significantly indicates low oestrogen levels. Oestrogen is an essential female hormone that stabilises the uterine lining. Conditions such as menopause, use of birth control pills, and hormonal IUD can cause low oestrogen levels in the body. 

Mid cycle pink spotting may also occur, especially during ovulation. Ovulation causes an increased cervical fluid, diluting the blood to pink or light red spotting. 

What does pink spotting in pregnancy imply?

Pink spotting in pregnant women may be a sign of pregnancy loss or miscarriage. It is usually associated with pelvic pain. 

What does orange period blood mean?

Similar to pink spotting, orange discharge can be due to the blood mixing with the cervical fluid. Orange-coloured spotting can also happen because of implantation around 10 to 14 days of conception. However, implantation spotting colour can vary. Orange discharge can also be due to a bacterial infection or STI accompanied by a foul smell and pain during urination or sex. 

What does grey period blood mean?

It is essential to note that grey or similar coloured blood, including off-white, can be because of serious vaginal infections like bacterial vaginosis. Other associated signs include:

  • Itchiness,
  • Foul-smelling discharge
  • Fever
  • Pain during sex and urination.

Grey discharge during pregnancy may be a sign of miscarriage. The uterine tissue that passes off during pregnancy is grey.

What does black period blood mean?

A dark brown, brownish black period occurs when the blood stays too long in the reproductive tract and is normal during the start or end of periods. Other causes of black discharge include: 

  • A foreign object stuck in the vagina- tampon, menstrual cups, condoms, etc., that have been stuck or not removed for long, causing irritation and infection with black discharge, rashes, foul smell, and fever. 
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) and STIs can lead to brownish black bleeding and heavy discharge even between periods. 
  • In pregnant women, brownish black or chocolaty discharge is a sign of missed miscarriage where the feotus stops developing but does not pass out of the reproductive tract for at least four weeks. 
  • Postpartum bleeding or lochia is usually pink or dark brown as the blood flow slows down. 

When to seek medical help?

Periods blood colour in a healthy woman varies in shades and textures. Periods lasting more than seven days accompanied by heavy blood flow, clotting, or abnormal period blood colour like grey may require medical assistance. Other reasons for medical help include:

  • Irregular menstruations with changing menstrual lengths,
  • Menstrual cycle shorter than 24 days or longer than 38 days,
  • Absence of periods for more than three months, 
  • Excess bleeding with pelvic pain,
  • Bleeding between periods,
  • Spotting or bleeding during pregnancy,
  • Grey discharge.  

Also Read :

1. Is It Possible To Get Pregnant Right After Periods?

2. Periods: Address Unhygienic Menstrual Conditions to Avoid Infertility


Periods blood colour change between cycles and during a particular period. It can also change at different stages of life- initial menarche days, implantation, ovulation, pregnancy, and menopause. However, a note of the change in period colour or texture with associated symptoms can help the healthcare provider to understand if there are any underlying conditions of infections, infertility, or pregnancy complications. 


Is it normal for the period colour to change at the beginning and end of my period?

Yes. Your period colour may be different at the start and change from the middle to the end. You can also have different colours from one monthly period to another. Period blood colour even changes at various times, including menarche and menopause.

What are the warning period hues?

Unusual shades of orange and grey indicate infections and abnormal reproductive conditions that require immediate medical attention.

What if periods are watery or filled with clots?

The blood flow during periods also changes from one month to another. Watery or clots both are not a cause of concern. However, clots larger than a quarter in size and heavy bleeding (hemorrhagia) can lead to anaemia and require medical help.

Somapika Dutta (B.Sc Physiology, Honours)
Somapikar holds Bachelors Degree in Physiology from University of Culcutta. She has 6+ years of experience writing in different niches, including health, tech and lifestyle. An animal enthusiast and a raging foodie, experiencing life - one day at a time.


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