Why do we get brown period blood? A doctor breaks it down

Why do I have brown period blood? It’s the question that almost every woman who gets a period wonders, but nobody really talks about it. It turns out that brown period blood is totally normal, and it simply means that your period is flowing slowly. That could happen at the beginning or end of your cycle, and it might even become a fun experiment to start monitoring the varied colors of your menstrual blood to see when your period is brown.

I personally remember that when I got my first period — perfectly timed just a week after my 13th birthday — I discovered a dark brown stain on my underwear. My mind instantly jumped to, “Wait, did I just poop in my pants?” Even after growing up in a household led by my midwife mother who loved talking about all things vaginas, the dark shade of my blood caught me off guard. But my mom reassured me that dark brown period blood was A-okay.

Why Do We Get Brown Period Blood?

We asked Dr. Felice Gersh over email to shed some light on the brown color that most uteri frequently shed. She explains, “Brown blood just means that the blood became oxidized. It’s a similar process to that of iron rusting.”

Is Brown Period Blood Normal?

Don’t worry, as bad as “rusty period blood” sounds, it’s completely normal, according to Dr. Gersh. “Blood can only oxidize if the flow of blood is slow enough to be around air long enough for the process of oxidation to occur,” she says. As if that’s not clear enough, Dr. Gersh explains brown period blood in even simpler terms. She says,

"All that having brown menstrual blood means is that the flow of menstrual blood isn't too fast and is around long enough to get oxidized before exiting the body."

Is There A Way To Stop Brown Period Blood?

You really can’t control the color of your period blood. All that matters is that periods come in varied colors, from dark brown to orange. It’s all a matter of how heavily or lightly the blood flows. Because brown menstrual blood occurs when you have a slower flow, it probably means you will have it on your lightest days. That usually happens at the beginning or the end of your period.

"If a woman is profusely bleeding from the uterus, the blood will be always be very red! A routine period with lighter, ordinary flow days can have times with brown blood," Dr. Gersh explains.

There you have it: brown period blood simply means your flow is ramping up or slowing down.

There’s nothing like some period talk to make you say, “Man! I feel like a woman.”