You’ve probably noticed how the colour of your menstrual blood changes throughout your period. One day it’s light pink, the next it’s brown-ish and later on it could be bright red. This is all pretty normal, but what if it’s black? That can’t be good right?! Although black stuff coming out of your body isn’t usually a good thing (think black heads or exorcised demons), black period blood is actually way more normal than you think and usually nothing to rush to the gynae about.
What might look like a black tampon to you is actually really, really dark brown. Brown period blood is simply old blood that has oxidised, which causes its colour to change from the usual red to a less appealing brown. When your uterus begins the (painful) process of shedding its lining at the start of your period, it’s common for not all of the blood to come out right away. The more time it spends in your uterus the darker it gets, hence some of us getting a whole lot of black-looking blood.
This type of bleeding usually occurs in the very beginning of your period and at the end, where the flow is slower and therefore blood has had more time to hang around and oxidise in your uterus. So, if you have a slow flow you’re more likely to see dark brown blood. It’s also typical to experience brown bleeding if you’ve given birth in the last six weeks.
What colour period blood is cause for concern?
Black, brown, bright red, dark red, pink, and even orange are all considered relatively normal colours for period blood to be. The only time you should worry is if what’s coming out of your vagina is grey. Grey discharge could be a sign of infection or a miscarriage and you should go to a doctor ASAP.
If your period blood shows itself in all the colours of the bloody rainbow throughout your cycle don’t stress; it’s normal. The period-related signs of an underlying issue that indicate you should go to the gynaecologist include:
- A significant change in the length of your period (especially if it lasts seven days or longer)
- An increase in the volume of blood (like if you’re having to change your tampon every 1-2 hours)
- Your cycle length is irregular and changes dramatically from one month to the next
- Bleeding between periods
- Not getting your period for three months or longer
- A cycle that is shorter than 24 days or longer than 38 days
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