What Are Normal Menstrual Periods? Does Color Texture And Types Matter?
Menstrual periods are not a phase of a year or two. Women start dealing with the natural phenomena of menstrual cycle right from their teenage years until they are in their 50s. Many of them are not fully aware or can’t differentiate between normal and abnormal periods.
You may call it lack of awareness but women can’t be completely blamed as sometimes it becomes difficult for them to fully comprehend the concept. It takes a great deal of determination and courage to handle those 40 years of regular monthly cycle. So, it completely makes sense to learn how to differentiate between normal and abnormal periods.
Let’s draw a brief outline of what is normal and abnormal periods and what those colors and textures means.
What are normal menstrual periods?
Your body goes through a lot of changes right from the day you experience your first period till the menopause. In terms of periods, ‘normal’ covers a lot of things. Every month, the body of a child bearing woman prepares her for getting pregnant. For this, the ovaries responds to hormones and releases egg, the uterine lining sheds and blood is released.
The menstrual cycle on an average, appears after every 28 days and lasts between 3-8 days. This phase starts at the first day of your last period and ends at the first day of your next period. Though, 28 days is an average cycle, periods that last between 21-35 days are also considered normal.
Initially, couple of years after getting first period, a girl will usually experience longer cycles. Gradually, as a woman gets older, she will experience shorter and less frequent menstrual cycles. But remember, if you are using any contraceptive pills or intrauterine devices (IUD), your period timing could be changed.
Periods can be light, moderate or heavy in terms of how much blood is released during this phase. If the flow is between 2-8 tablespoons, then it’s in the normal range.
Types of periods
For easy understanding, menstrual periods are defined or divided into different types.
Also known as menorrhagia, the flow in this category is usually more than 80 ml or over 5 tablespoon. But heavy period does not always mean any abnormality. Heavy blood flow can be normal for some women but may be inconvenient like using more than one pad or tampon every couple of hours. It may also be due to some underlying condition. If you have any symptoms, the doctor can help you manage them.
This type of periods are often referred to as ‘menstrual cramps’. This can also vary from woman to woman. Painful periods are also medically known as dysmenorrhea and could be either normal or due to some underlying conditions such as endometriosis, uterine fibroids and adenomyosis.
Irregular or abnormal periods
This type of periods were earlier called as dysfunctional uterine bleeding, but now the experts no longer use this term and instead call it abnormal bleeding. Any bleeding that occurs out of regular menstrual cycle is known as abnormal or irregular periods. This could change in amount as well as duration. Irregular periods may also occur due to Polycystic Ovary Disease (PCOS) and excessive exercising.
A light period may be defined as mere spotting or does not exhibit much blood flow. It also means periods which are shorter than the regular 28 days cycle. It may also indicate that your menopause is around the corner. The flow is so light that 1 pad can last up to 6 hours.
|Painful Periods - What are the various ways to treat this condition?|
Pregnancy and periods
Missing periods is a sign of pregnancy. However, light periods can also a sign of pregnancy, although it occurs rarely. You may also find brownish pink spotting if you are pregnant. Do check with your doctor if you see such color if you are planning a child.
What color and texture of the blood suggests?
The normal range of periods can also show various color, texture and tinge, but it’s not alarming. In most of the cases, it’s normal.
- Normal blood - If the color of blood is bright red, then it is regular blood and has just recently shed from the uterine lining. The color of the blood may also be dark brown, this could mean that the blood is older or might have been in the uterus for a long time before coming out.
- Thin Blood - The blood may also appear thin in moderately heavy periods, but it’s nothing to worry about.
- Lumpy blood - The blood may also appear lumpy in some cases. This happens due to lack of anti-coagulant chemicals that prevents blood clotting. However, it might be a sign of some underlying condition if the lumps are persistent, accompanied by pain and have pink and greyish tinge. Also, women who have miscarried might pass lumpy blood clots, often grey in color. So make sure you immediately call your doctor.
- Slippery or Slim blood – This kind of texture suggests that the blood have been mixed with some sort of vaginal discharge. This is also a normal blood but make sure this is reddish and brownish in color, else get it checked.
Color of menstrual blood according to condition
Let’s categorize the colors. This will help you evaluate your condition better.
- Fast flowing blood – Bright Red
- Slow flowing blood – Black/Brown
- Abnormal Blood – Grey
- Mid-cycle ovulation – pink/orange
- Infection – Dark Red/Orange/Grey
- Low estrogen – Pink
- Old Blood – Black/Brown
- Missed Miscarriage – Brown
If you are still confused, keep a record of the flow, color and texture, and visit the doctor for better understanding.
Making a diagnosis
Self-diagnosing is the very first step to prevent any underlying condition to take severe form. There are basically three variables you should consider yourself before going for a check with the doctor. These are:
- How many days your bleeding lasts?
- How much you bleed?
- Is your bleeding regular or irregular?
- What is the color of your menstrual blood?
These variables will help your gynecologist determine your condition appropriately. He may then perform various tests such as ultrasound, CT scan and MRI to confirm the diagnosis, although in majority of cases it won’t be required.
Heavy or light menstrual bleeding in most of the cases is not a cause of concern. However, you should keep in touch with your gynecologist if the condition is persistent, has unusual color and accompanied by other symptoms.