If I Get My Period Could I Still Be Pregnant – POV: You’re on your period. You exchange your menstrual product of choice when you look down and wonder, ‘Wait, why is my menstrual blood brown?’ Or pink. Or black. Or any other color you might not have expected to see.

As it turns out, your menstrual blood color can tell you a surprising amount about your cycle and your overall health. So we asked Dr. Allegra Cummings, OB-GYN at Weill Cornell Medicine, to talk to us about what each color means, and when to see your doctor.

If I Get My Period Could I Still Be Pregnant

Good news: Dark red or brown period blood is usually nothing to worry about. “The main reason period blood might be brown is because it’s old blood,” Dr. Cummings said.

Can I Still Get My Period While Pregnant?

It usually happens at the beginning or end of your period, when your flow is lighter. Because the longer the blood takes to leave the body, the longer it has to oxidize (read: expose to oxygen), which darkens it. “It’s not a bad thing at all,” said Dr. Cummings. “It often just means that it’s lighter bleeding and so it just comes out more slowly.”

Another reason for dark red or brown period blood: Contraception. It can reduce how much you bleed overall, Dr. Cummings said, and when there’s not a lot of blood, it can take longer to come out.

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And something that could lead to brown blood in your underwear, but isn’t actually your period: implantation bleeding. Aka, the normal spotting that occurs about two weeks into pregnancy.

Pink period blood may appear at the beginning of your period. And it is typically that color because the blood has mixed with vaginal discharge. (Which is usually nothing to worry about.) It can also appear if you’re on birth control, as that can lower your estrogen levels and cause a pink tint during periods.

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Note: If you experience blood in discharge but you are not on your period, it may be from small tears in the vagina after sex. Or, it could be normal spotting during ovulation.

Bright red blood usually didn’t have much time to oxygenate. It often occurs during a steady flow. “When people have heavier periods, that’s usually when you’ll get that bright red blood,” Dr. Cummings said.

Black blood is even older than dark red or brown period blood. But if you’re experiencing black period blood along with some pregnancy symptoms, and it doesn’t turn into a period (read: it only lasts one to three days), it may actually be implantation bleeding. Or, it could be a sign of a miscarriage. Yes, the human body can be confusing. Check with your doctor if anything is wrong or if you have any questions.

If you see blood with an orange tint, Dr. Cummings explained, it may not just be menstrual blood. That means it could be blood mixed with vaginal discharge that is caused by an underlying infection. Like bacterial vaginosis (aka BV), which is inflammation caused by an imbalance of bacteria or trichomoniasis (STD). If this happens to you, call your doc to get more information.

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Reasons Why You Are Spotting Before Your Period

Another case of vaginal discharge mixed with period blood. Gray discharge can be a sign of BV. Which can come with other symptoms like itching and a fishy smell. Also another case where you should contact your doctor.

It can be a sign of an infection such as trichomoniasis or BV. Again, contact your doctor if you notice green in your menstrual blood.

Don’t be alarmed by “jelly-like” bright or dark red period blood clots. Because they are usually normal collections of blood cells and tissues. But if you notice blood clots larger than the size of a quarter during your period (more on that below), check with your doctor. Speaking of which…

Losing two to three tablespoons of blood during your period is considered normal. And that’s usually in four to five days (although it can vary a little for different people). But if you experience excessive bleeding, it may be a sign of menorrhagia — heavy or prolonged bleeding that could cause anemia. So you may want to see a doctor if…

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Period blood, like vaginal discharge, can come in different colors and textures. Which can be alarming if you don’t know what they mean. But it’s often your body’s way of telling you where you are in your cycle, and when to see a doctor.

This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It does not constitute medical opinion, medical advice, or diagnosis or treatment of any particular condition.

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