Menstrual blood is different from blood anywhere else in body.
“A fun fact is that menstrual blood is different from blood anywhere else in body in that it usually doesn’t clot, which makes sense because if the blood immediately clotted then it wouldn’t come out,” says ob-gyn Jennifer Ashton, M.D.
So if your period’s different from the blood in other parts of your body, what’s it supposed to look like?
Although Ashton notes that there hasn’t been any rigorous scientific analysis of the viscosity of menstruation, “I think the best way to describe it is that it shouldn’t be thin like Kool-Aid and it shouldn’t be thick like ketchup.” Your period blood’s consistency is typically somewhere in between.
Of course, that isn’t always the case. Here’s what it means if your menstrual blood is…
Once in a while during heavy periods, every woman will notice a clot of blood in their toilet bowl, and that’s absolutely fine.
According to CDC, blood clots that are less than the size of a quarter are no big deal. “But the bigger and larger the clots, the more significant it is,” says Ashton.
“Women shouldn’t be pulling large stuff out of their underwear or seeing it in the bowl. That’s not normal.”
Big blood clots could be a sign of something hormonal or a small, non-cancerous growth inside the uterus that’s called a uterine fibroid.
A study from the Birmingham Women’s Hospital found as many as 70 percent of women will have uterine fibroids before turning 50, and although many don’t have negative repercussions, some can result in pregnancy issues and pain—so it’s worth talking to a health care provider to make sure everything’s okay.
Here's how to make sure you have a happy and healthy vagina.
While some women just tend to have lighter periods, thin and watery period blood could also be a sign of something else.
“In general if you see a watery discharge, whatever tainted color it might be, it could be coming from an ovarian tumor or a fallopian tumor,” says Ashton, noting that it’s hard to tell without an actual exam—so you should definitely book an appointment with your doctor if you notice your period is noticeably thinner than usually.
If you’ve noticed that your period is a little slicker than usual, that’s probably just because your menstruation blood has been mixed with some cervical mucus.
“In the canal that leads up to the uterus, there are mucus-producing cells,” says Wysocki.
This mucus actually helps protect and direct sperm to the egg—or can also thicken when influenced by hormonal contraceptives to prevent pregnancy.
Regardless, it’s not a big deal if some of it gets mixed in with your period blood.
Of course, you know your body best. So if anything seems off, make an appointment with your ob-gyn as soon as possible.