Women get their periods regularly every month. The bleeding that you see on your pad or tampon or in the toilet bowl is a mixture of both blood and tissue from the lining of your uterus.
The amount of period blood, along with other factors, will influence what your period blood looks like.
What Causes Bleeding?
When the hormone changes cause the uterine lining from the wall of your uterus, your period starts. This lining has built up during the earlier weeks of your cycle.
Your menstrual flow is a mixture of this built up tissue combined with blood loss from the blood vessels from the wall of the uterus.
A cut on your finger will bleed until clotting factors are released that stop the bleeding. Similarly, blood will flow from the small blood vessels that were torn when the lining of the uterus separated.
This bleeding will continue until clotting factors and hormone changes stop the bleeding and restart building up the uterine lining again. This is called the menstrual cycle.
What is Menstruation?
The period’s blood’s appearance can change from cycle to cycle and also from day to day in the same cycle. Your menstrual flow can be described not only by how much you bleed but also by the color and consistency of the flow.
The color of your period blood is an indication of how quickly the blood is passing through the open blood vessels in the wall of the uterus.
The brighter red the blood the more recent the bleeding. This can also indicate that the blood passes quickly through the cervix into the vagina. The darker the blood flow, ranging from dark red to brown, suggests slightly older blood or slower flow. Usually, the menstrual blood is a shade or two darker than ‘normal’ bleeding.
The consistency of your menstrual flow indicates how much uterine lining is mixed with the blood. Generally, the period blood is a little thicker than ‘normal’ bleeding because of the tissue it contains.
Your period blood may be thin and watery or thick and sticky. The thin and watery period blood discharge is usually pinkish while thick and sticky discharge is usually brownish. These changes in the menstrual cycle appear at the end of your cycle after most of the endometrial tissue has passed.
These changes can also suggest a decreased build up in the lining of your uterus which is common as a woman approaches menopause or if her cycles are light due to other hormonal causes like upset, stress or excessive exercise.
Clumps of tissue or blood clots can be visible during your menstrual cycle. This is usually associated with a heavier flow. Conditions that cause more of a buildup in the lining of the uterus and increase the number of underlying blood vessels like uterine polyps or submucosal fibroids can result in this change in your menstrual flow.
What Your Period Blood Consistency Says About Your Health
The following are some of the consistencies and their messages:
1. If it looks like fruit punch
Bright red period blood is healthy. But it is dangerous if the color has the watered-down look of a party drink whose ice cubes have melted. It could represent a vaginal discharge, which could come from a sexually transmitted infection (STI), cervical cancer, or normal pregnancy.
2. If it’s millennial pink
This color might be everywhere, but it doesn’t belong to your menstrual blood. Light bleeding can be a sign of low estrogen levels caused by the birth control pill, anemia, significant weight loss, or a poor diet.
3. If it’s the consistency of strawberry jam
Blood can turn solid and appear like a clot in certain conditions. But it’s not necessarily something to worry about—chunks the size of raisins or smaller during a heavy blood flow are totally normal.
But if they’re thick and larger than a quarter, they can be indicative of a hormonal imbalance, uterine fibroids, uterine polyps, or an abnormal pregnancy.
4. If it looks like muddy raindrops
In most cases, if spotting occurs mid-cycle, often, it’s just a sign of ovulation. But if you are experiencing brown droplets between periods for more than 2 months, it could be because of hormonal fluctuations caused by puberty, pre-menopause, menopause, polycystic ovarian syndrome ovulation, or birth control side effects.
Consulting a doctor can help you figure out the source of your spotty blood drop.
It is always protective to observe the color and consistency of the menstrual blood to avoid trouble in the future.