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That’s the thing about your body: It keeps giving you signals indicating something’s wrong. But you just don’t seem to get it, unless it’s got no option, but to scream out loud in a bid to put its point across. The result? Well, all that ignorance can culminate into an illness, a disease, or a disorder.
Let’s just get more specific here and talk about our menstrual health, because as it is, most people shy away from discussing periods openly—thanks to the menstruation taboo that refuses to leave us alone. Perhaps, the body does give signals indicating whether or not your menstrual health is in a good place.
The colour of your period blood, for instance, can be a full-fledged indicator of your health.
“A woman’s period blood can change in colour and texture from month to month or even during a single period due to hormonal changes, as well as a person’s diet, lifestyle, age, and environment. However, infections, pregnancy, and, in rare cases, cervical cancer, can cause unusual blood colour or irregular bleeding as well,” says Dr Surabhi Siddhartha, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, Motherhood Hospital, Kharghar, Mumbai.
Just to make it easier for you, here is a guide on what the colour of your period blood is indicated about your health:
1. Black: “Black period blood is just blood that has taken longer to leave the uterus, and as a result, has oxidised more. This can be common in women, who have infrequent periods,” says Dr Siddhartha.
2. Dark red or brown: According to her, brown menstrual blood near the beginning or end of your period is normal and is just a sign that the discharged blood is older.
3. Bright red: Dr Siddhartha explains that bright red and dark red blood are both signs of a healthy period. When the blood is bright red, it means, it is fresher. This is more common at the start of your period when bleeding is heavier.
4. Pink: “If a woman notices period blood with a pinkish tinge, it is due to the blood mixing with cervical fluid. However, it could indicate low oestrogen levels, if accompanied by a flow that is lighter than usual,” Dr Siddhartha warns.
5. Orange: She also mentions that bright orange vaginal discharge is usually a sign of vaginal infection like a sexually transmitted infection (STI) or a bacterial infection. It may also be accompanied by an unusual smell or change in the texture of the blood. A visit to your gynaecologist for diagnosis and treatment is advised by her, in this case.
6. Grey: “This kind of period blood or vaginal discharge can indicate that the woman is having an infection and should book an appointment to see her gynaecologist for treatment,” says Dr Siddhartha.
“Bacterial vaginosis is one of the more common infections, but if the vaginal discharge also has a change in texture, there is a possibility that a woman is having a miscarriage (if pregnant),” she adds.
7. Watery or white discharge: “Excess white discharge in menstrual blood can be a sign of cervical erosion and it needs to be investigated further,” warns Dr Siddhartha.
Additionally, the following changes in your period blood could also be indicative of a serious health condition:
Menstrual clots: Blood clots are formed when the blood pools and begins to coagulate. Small blood clots are a natural part of menstruation and can be common during the first few days of your period, when the bleeding is heavier.
“However, if the clots are larger in size and are particularly frequent, this could be a cause of concern and may indicate a condition like fibroids, uterine polyps, or endometriosis,” warns Dr Siddhartha.
Membrane-like substance in period blood: If the woman can see membrane or tissue in her period blood, it is likely that something is wrong. Some of the most common reasons for membrane or tissue in period blood include hormonal issues or miscarriage (if pregnant).
So, when should you be alarmed?
To sum it up, it is advisable for you to consult a gynaecologist in case you notice any of the following symptoms:
Now that you know what’s normal and what’s not, we hope you’ll keep the panicking away and visit your gynaecologist if you see something unusual.