What’s normal when it comes to vaginal discharge changes throughout your cycle and can range from bright red to clear. (Read more on normal vaginal discharge throughout your cycle.) But what about when you’re specifically on your period? What’s considered normal then?
Discharge during your menstrual cycle
Discharge, or cervical fluid, is a totally normal, healthy part of the menstrual cycle. The different types of discharge that you encounter throughout the month signal where you’re at in relation to ovulation.
The best way to chart cervical fluid is to wipe with toilet paper prior to urinating or take note of the quality of the discharge found in your underwear.
Here’s what to expect during the different phases of your period:
Follicular Phase: The day after your period, you experience dryness. There may be a slight dampness, but nothing that will leave you feeling wet. Then, as estrogen rises, you’ll notice white or light yellow discharge, though it likely doesn’t feel wet. As you approach ovulation you’ll have wetter, stickier cervical fluid that is white and thicker that previously.
Ovulatory Phase: Your most fertile cervical fluid should resemble raw egg white. It is stretchy and has a clear or slightly cloudy color. Your vagina may simply feel wet and slippery throughout the day, because it is the wateriest of cervical fluids.
Luteal Phase: Estrogen drops, and progesterone begins to surge—your cervical fluid should dry up quite rapidly and then, a day or two before menstruation, you may feel some wetness or discharge again.
Discharge and blood during your period
Period blood comes in various shades of red, from bright to dark, as well as brown or black. The color of your period blood can be affected by several factors, including natural hormone level fluctuations and the rate at which the lining of your uterus sheds itself. And it can change throughout the course of a single period.
What do different colors of blood on your period mean?
The color of period blood can indicate different things.
- Bright red period blood is typically a sign that bleeding is heavy and happening at a steady rate. Menstruation tends to be heaviest in the first two days, however everybody is different.
- Dark red or brown blood is typically a sign that bleeding is light and slowing down.
- Dark brown or black blood is typically a sign that bleeding is slowing down and that the blood is older.
- Pink or orange blood is a sign that the bleeding is light or the blood is mixed with cervical fluid. It could also indicate low estrogen—connect with your doctor to discuss pink or brown period blood further.
It's important to note that the color of period blood may also be affected by natural hormonal changes over the course of several months, medications including hormonal contraception, and certain medical conditions. It can be helpful to monitor flow volume, color and consistency with the use of the measurement lines on a DIVA Cup to note what's normal for you and your period. Always seek the help of your doctor if you notice any irregularities.
Once you’ve completed your period, the pattern will return to dry for the first few days of your follicular phase again.
What do different textures of blood on your period mean?
Your period blood can range in texture from smooth to clumpy—there’s a lot that’s considered normal. The consistency often depends on the thickness of your uterine lining, which tends to be thinner as we age, though stress and hormonal balance can also have an impact. Clots can be another common occurrence and are often nothing to worry about, especially if they are small. (But, larger clots, heavy bleeding and severe pain should always be brought to a doctor’s attention for further investigation.)