It may sound weird, but checking the color and consistency of your menstrual blood can be super interesting and empowering. It's not uncommon for your period blood to change from month to month and while it should be fresh red, it can also be black, blue, brown, rusty, bright red, pink, pale, watery or clotty. Each color sends you a message about what's going on with your body – the trick is learning to read it.
Can we take a few minutes to talk about period blood? We know this is not a common topic, but we think it should be.
Your menstrual blood is made up in part by your uterine lining, which sloughs off when you’re not pregnant and there’s no fertilized egg for it to support. With that in mind, it’s not surprising that your period and the color of your blood can give you a sneak peak into what’s going on with your uterine lining. And since a healthy uterine lining is key for reproduction (aka the biological goal of your entire body), the health of your lining reflects not only your reproductive health and fertility but also your overall health.
The key is decoding what the color and consistency of your blood are telling you. Here’s what you should know:
#PeriodGoals: fresh, bright red period blood
Your period blood should be a nice bright red – like blood from a fresh cut or strawberry jam (yum).
If your menstrual blood looks like this, it’s a good sign that your uterine lining is healthy. When your uterine lining is healthy, that means your digestive system, immune system, and endocrine (hormone) system are all functioning like they should be. In other words, your body is strong, healthy, and getting what it needs.
Here's why: in order to produce a vibrant, velvety red uterine lining, all of your body's systems need to be working well, and working together. Your body has two biological imperatives, to stay alive and to reproduce, in that order. Once it has taken care of its own needs then it can put extra resources into the reproductive side of things, aka your uterine lining.
Pale, pink, scanty, and watery periods
When there aren’t enough resources to go around and it boils down to keeping you alive versus building a uterine lining strong enough to bring little mini-yous into the world, your body will choose survival. So, when your body is dealing with limited resources, your reproductive system suffers.
Pale, pink, scanty, and/or watery periods indicate that your body’s basic needs aren’t being adequately met, especially on the nutrition front.
Often this is because you’re not getting enough high-quality nutrition in your diet. If that’s the case for you, try staying away from processed foods and aim to eat an iron-rich whole foods diet with most of your calories coming from protein and healthy fats. Remember: iron and protein are essential nutrients for creating blood.
Sometimes people with healthy, iron-rich, protein-rich diets still have deficient periods because their bodies struggle to process the nutrients they're consuming. Digestion issues or absorption issues are usually to blame – food sensitivities, like gluten or dairy, can screw up the process of turning food into building blocks for the rest of your body.
Whatever the cause, pinkish, watery, or pale periods can be a warning sign that you need to put the breaks on a little bit, get some extra rest, and focus on taking care of yourself.
Dark brown, rusty, and clotty periods
Periods with dark brown, rusty and cloth blood tend to suck. Essentially they tell you that your body is having a really hard time shedding your uterine lining, and they usually go hand-in-hand with cramps.
So, let’s talk about menstrual cramps for a sec. Do you know why they exist? Beneath the uterine lining itself, your uterus is made of muscle. When your lining doesn't shed easily on its own, the walls of the uterus contract and spasm to help shake it loose. Those spasms are what we call period cramps. (More on that here.)
Essentially, the reason that your period blood turns that rusty brownish color, or that it's full of clots, it that it has become old and stale. Think of a time when you cut yourself, after a while the blood dries up and becomes this sort of rusty brown stuff, right? The same thing can happen with your uterine lining. When your body is struggling to get the old lining out of you and things are taking longer than they should, your blood hangs around and gets stale.
What causes this? It could be elevated body temperatures, like those caused by chronic inflammation or hormonal imbalances, which “dry up” the blood and make it more stubborn to remove. Or, if you have a really heavy or really light period, it may mean that your body is just having a hard time getting rid of the built-up lining in the uterus. This can compound over time, making cramps worse and worse.
FYI: We've totally got you covered here. Our 100% all-natural Cramp Support formula is especially designed to promote a healthy menstrual flow, to get your bleeding back on track, and right where it's supposed to be. It also contains a number of medicinal herbs that have been shown to out-perform over the counter painkillers for menstrual cramps.
Blue, black, and purple period blood
If you've ever had a black, blue, or super dark purple period, you know that it can be a little surprising. These really dark periods are a sign that your uterine lining has become even more stagnant than the rusty brown ones that we covered above. Blue and purple periods may also be a sign of poorly oxygenated blood or colder than normal body temperatures, which can result from hypothyroid disorders.
Black periods are a sign that your uterine lining is REALLY super stuck. They are usually accompanied by a lot of clotting and pain and are also sometimes associated with endometriosis, fibroids, or other blood clotting issues.
If black periods are common for you, you may want to check in with your OB/GYN. Don’t freak out – black periods don't mean that something is definitely wrong, just that things aren’t working as well as they could be. If you're even concerned that something may be wrong with your period, it’s always a good idea to check in with your doctor though.
How to improve a weird period
Our founder has worked with thousands of women who looked like they were in great shape but suffered from terrible periods. They were healthy on the outside but weren't listening to what their bodies were telling them on the inside. How could they when no one had taught them how to decode their period symptoms?
Our periods are monthly checkups, report cards that tell us how things are going on the inside. But the color and clottiness of your blood is just one part of a bigger picture; the length and frequency of your cycle, your flow and your PMS symptoms all contain important insights. We unpack them in our (free) Healthy Period Handbook, which is designed to help you read your period and improve your cycle. It contains tailored tips based on what’s going on in your period, so you can achieve a better period and boost your overall health.
Beyond education, we help people improve their periods with our all-natural supplements. Blended by master herbalists, and refined over our founder's 20+ years of clinical practice, our supplements are designed to stop period problems like cramps and PMS before they start. They address the root causes of your symptoms, so you can prevent the symptoms from showing up in the first place. So far, they’ve helped over 10K people with periods – we’re hoping and betting that they will help you too.