Chances are, you haven’t given the color of your period blood much thought. After all, period blood is just blood, right? Well, not exactly.

“It’s important to understand your body and the color of your period,” says Dr. Carolyn Dean, women’s health expert and best-selling author of Hormone Balance. “The more you know, the more responsibility you can take over your own health.”

Is the color of your period a cause for concern? What’s considered a “healthy” color anyway? Here’s everything you need to know.

Brown or rust
If you see brown or rust-colored blood at the start or end of your period, it’s totally normal. According to Dr. Dean, this just shows that the discharged blood is older and that you’re preparing your body for the next menstrual cycle.

Bright red
Bright red blood indicates newer blood, and it can stay this way for the duration of your period or get darker each day. However, if bleeding occurs in between periods and it’s still a bright red color, it could indicate pregnancy spotting or infections like chlamydia or gonorrhea.

Light red or orange
This may be due to a mixture of blood and cervical fluids. But if the color is a bright orange, it may indicate an infection. In that case, a visit to your doctor may be a good idea.

Pink blood with a lighter flow can indicate low estrogen levels. According to Dr. Dean, it can also be caused by excessive exercise, which can disrupt the period.

“This can be an infection or a miscarriage,” Dr. Dean says. The best solution is to see a doctor right away.

Overall, it’s important to pay attention to what your periods are telling you. If anything seems off in the color, smell, consistency, or frequency, be sure to see a doctor. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

xx, The FabFitFun Team