Despite the fact that women have been having periods for thousands of years, there's still rather a lot we don't know about them — and a lot of misinformation and strange myths around the experience of having one. While we no longer believe that period blood is contaminated or magical, other, more medically believable misconceptions continue to circulate, and many of these misconceptions revolve around your period blood's color. Period color variations, from brown to light pink, are often pretty normal, but understanding the particular patterns of these variations, and what acts as a signal for bigger issues, is an important part of knowing your reproductive cycle.
The period app Clue, which gathers menstrual data from its millions of female users and uses it for scientific research on menstruation and health, advises against putting all your eggs into the blood-color basket. "Reproductive and menstrual health is still gravely misunderstood, and pushed aside compared to other aspects of health," Clue scientists tell Bustle. "The lack of proper education and research on aspects of female health negatively impacts people globally in so many ways. A range in period blood color is normal, and doesn’t signify anything serious. But do pay attention to your flow volume, changes in cycle length, and pain, as these can indicate underlying conditions." Color is just one aspect of the bigger phenomenon of your period, and prioritizing it may mean you ignore more important signs or don't look at the full picture of your menstrual health.
Most of us know that there are a few colors in a menstrual bleed that definitely mean you need to see a doctor — grey, for instance, can indicate an infection or miscarriage. And we all understand that discharge outside of a period that's abnormal or worrying probably needs to be checked out, particularly if it's got traces of blood in it, which can be a sign of cervical cancer. However, beyond those limits, there's a bunch of mythology (and not the fun, dragons-and-knights kind) about period blood color that needs to be addressed so that you recognize what's going on in your body and how to deal with it. Save yourself the gynecology appointment and let's have a quick check-in about period blood, and the three major misconceptions about it that we need to stop believing.