What Does It Mean When Your Bleeding While Pregnant – Medically reviewed by Valinda Riggins Nwadike, MD, MPH — by Jamie Eske — updated April 14, 2023

The color of a person’s menstrual blood can indicate various health conditions. For example, orange or gray blood can indicate a vaginal infection, while dark brown or red blood can be early signs of pregnancy.

What Does It Mean When Your Bleeding While Pregnant

What Does It Mean When Your Bleeding While Pregnant

During menstruation, the body sheds tissue and blood from the uterus through the vagina. This bloody discharge can vary from bright red to dark brown or black, depending on how old it is.

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Blood that stays in the uterus long enough reacts with oxygen (oxidation). Blood that has had time to oxidize is dark in color.

In this article we present a menstrual blood chart and discuss what the different colors of menstrual blood mean. We also cover color changes during a period, what clots mean and when to see a doctor.

Black blood may appear at the beginning or end of a person’s period. The color is usually a sign of old blood or blood that has taken too long to leave the uterus and has had time to oxidize, first turning brown or dark red and eventually turning black.

Black blood sometimes indicates a blockage in a person’s vagina. Other symptoms of vaginal obstruction may include:

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Like black blood, brown or dark red is a sign of old blood, which can appear at the beginning or end of menstruation. Brown or dark red blood did not have as long to oxidize as black blood and may appear different colors.

Brown blood or spotting can sometimes be an early sign of pregnancy, which doctors call implantation bleeding.

Brown discharge or spotting during pregnancy may indicate a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy, which is when the fertilized egg implants in the fallopian tube instead of the uterus.

What Does It Mean When Your Bleeding While Pregnant

It is important for women who experience spotting or vaginal bleeding during pregnancy to talk to their doctor or obstetrician.

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Dark red or brown vaginal discharge after childbirth is called lochia or postpartum bleeding. Lochia is not a cause for concern and is the body’s way of removing excess blood and tissue from the uterus.

Lochia usually begins with bright red blood and transitions to a darker shade as the flow decreases. Over time, the discharge will lighten both in color and size.

The duration of lochia varies from person to person, but it usually goes away in the first few months after giving birth. Women with heavy bleeding after giving birth should see a doctor.

Not all women experience lochia after giving birth. Women may experience irregular periods due to changes in hormone levels after childbirth.

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Bright red blood indicates fresh blood and a steady flow. Menstruation may start with bright red bleeding and may darken towards the end of the period. Some people may find that their blood stays bright red throughout their period.

Abnormal spotting or bleeding between menstrual cycles can be a sign of a sexually transmitted infection such as chlamydia or gonorrhea. Growths in the lining of the uterus called polyps or fibroids can cause abnormally heavy bleeding.

Using hormonal birth control can reduce estrogen levels in the body, which can cause a lighter, pinkish discharge during menstruation.

What Does It Mean When Your Bleeding While Pregnant

Sex can cause small tears in the vagina or cervix. Blood from these tears can mix with vaginal fluids and leave a person’s body as a pink discharge.

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During pregnancy, a miscarriage is indicated with pink discharge containing tissue and cramping. It is important for women who experience vaginal bleeding during pregnancy to see their doctor or obstetrician.

Orange blood or discharge often indicates an infection such as bacterial vaginosis or trichomoniasis. People with orange-colored blood should be examined for other symptoms, such as vaginal itching, discomfort, and foul-smelling discharge.

Although orange period blood or discharge does not always indicate an infection, it is a good idea for a person to see a doctor or gynecologist for an evaluation.

A gray discharge is usually a sign of bacterial vaginosis, a condition caused by an imbalance between good and bad bacteria in the vagina.

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People with symptoms of bacterial vaginosis should see a doctor or gynecologist. Doctors usually prescribe antibiotics to treat bacterial vaginosis.

In the later stages of pregnancy, gray discharge with clots can indicate a miscarriage. Women who experience bleeding during pregnancy should see their doctor or obstetrician.

Hormonal changes, as well as a person’s diet, lifestyle, age and environment can all cause changes in menstrual blood.

What Does It Mean When Your Bleeding While Pregnant

Period blood can vary from bright red to dark brown depending on changes in flow. Infections, pregnancy and in rare cases cervical cancer, abnormal blood color or irregular bleeding can occur.

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A person should see a doctor if there is bleeding that requires changing the tampon or pad after less than 2 hours.

Blood during a healthy period may contain visible fragments of uterine mucus. These small pieces of tissue or clots in the blood are not a cause for concern.

, menorrhagia is when a person has abnormally heavy menstrual bleeding or lasts longer than 7 days.

Anyone who is pregnant should talk to their doctor or obstetrician if they notice bleeding or abnormal vaginal discharge.

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However, everyone’s period is different, and the color and consistency of blood can change between periods and from month to month. So it is essential for people to learn what is normal.

Healthy period blood usually varies from bright red to dark brown or black. Blood or discharge that is orange or gray indicates an infection. Women who experience bleeding during pregnancy should see a doctor or obstetrician for evaluation.

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What Does It Mean When Your Bleeding While Pregnant

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What Does It Mean When Your Bleeding While Pregnant

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