Your period color changes throughout your cycle, but did you know that different colors have different meanings? In fact, the color and texture of your flow could be an important indicator of your health. First off, the age of blood can be determined by the color. Lighter color means newer blood, while darker colors signify older blood. Also, if your period is watery and thin, it’s usually a sign of a light flow. More clots and thicker texture means your period is heavier.

Here’s a little color cheat sheet we created to help you decode your flow:

Bright Red: This is the most common color and a sign of a steady flow of fresh blood, signaling a heathy period.

Pink: Blood mixed with cervical fluid that could be a sign of anemia, weight loss, or an unhealthy diet. It can also be caused by hormonal birth control that lowers your estrogen levels.

Orange: An orange color is also in response to blood mixed with cervical fluid, but if it is bright orange it could signify a possible infection.

Gray: Discharge or period blood that has a grey hue could mean that you have bacterial vaginosis. Bacterial vaginosis is an overgrowth of bacteria in the vagina that can be symptom-less or create discharge, itching, and odor. Definitely time to make a trip to the doctor!

Dark Brown: This is a sign of older blood, so it is often present at the beginning or end of a period. It could also be an early sign of pregnancy.

Dark Red: This is usually sign of old blood as well, so it can occur at the beginning or end of your cycle. Blood may also appear dark red if you have been laying down for awhile, like first thing in the morning.

Black: This could also appear at the beginning or end of the period, or be a sign of a vaginal blockage. In rare cases, it may indicate cervical cancer, so be sure to ask your doctor if you experience it for more than 2 days.

We are definitely not MD’s, so if you have any questions or are unsure about the color of your menstrual fluid, then please see your doctor.