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Why is my period purple?

What does a purple period mean?

It’s normal for period blood to range in color from bright red to dark brown or black. However, a purple color is uncommon and may indicate an underlying health condition. Some potential causes of a purple period include:

Vaginal or cervical cancer

Certain types of vaginal or cervical cancer can cause unusual bleeding. The cancerous cells may mix with menstrual blood and create a purple color. See your doctor right away if you notice any abnormal bleeding.

Hormonal imbalances

Hormone fluctuations may lead to changes in your menstrual flow, including odd colors like purple. Issues with hormones like estrogen and progesterone can cause the uterus to shed more tissue and blood, which could create a purple hue. See your gynecologist if hormones are a suspected cause.

Genital tract infections

Infections of the vagina, cervix, uterus, or fallopian tubes can all lead to abnormal discharge, which may mix with menstrual blood. Gonorrhea, chlamydia, bacterial vaginosis, and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) are examples. The discharge from an infection could create a purple color.


This condition causes tissue that normally lines the uterus to grow outside of it. The misplaced tissue breaks down and bleeds during your period. Old blood from endometriosis may leave the body and mix with regular menstrual flow, leading to a purple color.

Uterine polyps or fibroids

Noncancerous growths in the uterus can occasionally cause heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding. Passing old blood from these growths could contribute to a purple period. Polyps and fibroids do not always require treatment, but let your doctor know if you suspect either.


Certain medications like anticoagulants, anti-inflammatory drugs, and birth control pills can cause menstrual changes. Increased or unusual bleeding may occur. The medication itself or old blood flow could potentially lead to a purple coloration.

Blood disorders

Problems with blood clotting and bleeding disorders can allow blood to pool in the uterus and change the color when it’s discharged. Examples include von Willebrand disease and platelet abnormalities. See a hematologist if you suspect an underlying blood disorder.

Recent childbirth

After giving birth, women experience bleeding called lochia as the uterus sheds its lining. Lochia often contains old blood and can appear dark purple or brown initially. This bleeding gradually lightens in color over the first few weeks postpartum.

Aged blood

In some cases, menstrual blood simply remains in the uterus or vagina for an extended time before being discharged. As it ages, the blood darkens. Older blood mixing with fresh flow can create a purple hue. If this occurs persistently, see your doctor to rule out other causes.

When to see a doctor

Consult your gynecologist if you notice purple menstrual blood on more than one cycle. While it may be normal on occasion, routine purple periods suggest an underlying problem. Seek medical advice for:

– Heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding
– Abnormal vaginal discharge
– Bleeding between periods
– Bleeding after menopause or intercourse
– Pelvic pain or cramping
– Any concerns about vaginal cancers

Diagnostic tests may include a pelvic exam, Pap test, biopsy, ultrasound, or other imaging. Treatment will depend on the cause. Many issues like fibroids, endometriosis, or vaginal infections are treatable with medication, minor surgery, or other approaches.

How is a purple period diagnosed?

To determine why your period is purple, your doctor will likely begin with:

Medical history

Be prepared to describe your symptoms and menstrual history in detail. Your doctor may ask:

– When did you first notice purple bleeding?
– Are your periods heavier than usual? Longer? More painful?
– Have you noticed any discharge or pain during sex?
– Could you be pregnant?
– Have you started or changed birth control pills?
– Do you use tampons or menstrual cups?
– Do you have any other symptoms like fatigue, bloating, or nausea?

Providing complete information helps your doctor make an accurate differential diagnosis.

Pelvic exam

This allows your doctor to visually examine your vagina and cervix. They can note any abnormalities in discharge, odor, lesions, polyps, inflammation, or growths that may explain purple bleeding.

Pap smear

Cells are gently scraped from your cervix during the pelvic exam and sent to a lab. A pap smear detects any precancerous or cancerous cervical cells. This test screens specifically for cervical cancer.

Blood tests

Blood work helps identify issues like hormonal imbalances and bleeding disorders. Your doctor may order panels to check:

– Complete blood cell count (checks for anemia)
– Platelet levels (clotting ability)
– Estrogen, progesterone, testosterone
– Thyroid hormones
– Prolactin and other pituitary hormones
– Clotting factors

STD testing

If a genital tract infection is suspected, your doctor can perform tests for:

– Gonorrhea and chlamydia: Nucleic acid amplification tests (NAAT) on urine or vaginal swabs
– Bacterial vaginosis: Microscopic evaluation of vaginal discharge
– HIV: Blood tests for antibodies


This imaging test uses sound waves to create pictures of your reproductive organs. It can detect uterine fibroids, polyps, ovarian cysts, tumors, and more. Ultrasound may be done transvaginally or transabdominally.


A small tissue sample is removed for evaluation under a microscope. Biopsy can identify cancer, precancer, and other uterine abnormalities. Types include:

– Endometrial biopsy: Samples the uterine lining
– Cervical biopsy: Samples the opening of the cervix
– Dilation and curettage (D&C): Scrapes tissue from the uterine lining


Your doctor inserts a thin viewing instrument into the uterus to directly see any polyps, fibroids, or other issues. Suspicious lesions may be biopsied.


This surgery inserts a tiny camera into the abdomen to view the uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes. It helps diagnose endometriosis, cysts, PID, and cancers. Biopsies can be taken as well.

Medical treatments

Once the cause of a purple period is identified, treatment aims to resolve the underlying problem. This may include:

Hormonal birth control

Oral contraceptives or intrauterine devices can help regulate menstrual cycles and reduce heavy bleeding. The hormones may also shrink issues like endometriosis or fibroids.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs)

Ibuprofen or naproxen provides pain relief and lighter periods by reducing prostaglandins and uterine inflammation.

Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists

These injectable drugs suppress estrogen production and may improve endometriosis, uterine fibroids, or heavy bleeding.


Medications like metronidazole or doxycycline clear up bacterial vaginosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, or other infections causing abnormal discharge.

Birth control pills

Oral contraceptives regulate menstrual cycles and reduce heavy bleeding. The hormones also shrink issues like endometriosis or uterine fibroids.

Blood thinners

Anticoagulants like warfarin prevent excessive clotting in women with bleeding disorders. This provides a steady blood flow.

When to see your doctor

In most cases, light purple menstrual flow that occurs only occasionally is not a major concern. However, schedule an appointment if you notice:

– Routine heavy or prolonged purple periods
– Bleeding between periods
– Bleeding after menopause or intercourse
– Foul-smelling discharge
– Pelvic pain or cramping
– Other bothersome symptoms

See your doctor right away if you experience:

– Sudden heavy purple bleeding that soaks a pad or tampon hourly
– Severe pelvic pain, dizziness, or fainting
– Signs of shock like rapid heart rate, pale skin, and sweating
– Fever, chills, vomiting, or diarrhea

Natural remedies

You can try some home treatments to find relief while waiting to see your doctor:

– Take an over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) like ibuprofen to reduce heavy bleeding and pain.
– Apply a heating pad to your abdomen and lower back to ease cramping.
– Get extra iron from foods like red meat, beans, spinach, and fortified cereals if you feel fatigue from excessive blood loss.
– Soak in a warm bath with Epsom salt to reduce cramping and relax muscles.
– Consider switching to a menstrual cup, which can hold heavier flow than pads or tampons.
– Limit physical activity and rest more during your period to prevent increased bleeding.
– Reduce stress through yoga, meditation, or other relaxation techniques. High stress may worsen pain and bleeding.
– Avoid using tampons, which can increase the risk of toxic shock syndrome when flow is heavy.

However, check with your gynecologist before making any major diet or exercise changes. Getting an accurate diagnosis is essential before attempting to manage symptoms at home long-term. Most causes of purple periods require proper medical treatment.

When to see a doctor immediately

Seek emergency care if you experience any of the following:

– Bleeding more heavily than 2 pads per hour for 2-3 hours
– Lightheadedness, dizziness, weakness, or fainting
– Chest pain and shortness of breath
– Severe abdominal pain
– Fever over 101°F (38.3°C)
– Vomiting or diarrhea preventing fluid intake
– Signs of shock like rapid heart rate, pale skin, and sweating

These may indicate a life-threatening emergency like a ruptured ovarian cyst, kidney infection, appendicitis, or ectopic pregnancy. Call 911 or have someone drive you to the ER.

How to prevent purple periods

You can reduce the risk of purple menstrual flow by:

– Getting routine Pap smears to screen for cervical cancer
– Using condoms to lower STD risk leading to pelvic infections
– Maintaining a healthy weight to prevent hormone disruption
– Avoiding excess alcohol and caffeine which can worsen cramps and bleeding
– Quitting smoking, which elevates cancer risk and can impair blood oxygenation
– Discussing heavy, painful periods with your gynecologist and asking about treatment options
– Taking NSAIDs just before and during your period to decrease flow
– Starting hormonal birth control to regulate menstrual cycles
– Managing conditions like endometriosis, uterine fibroids, or polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which raise the odds of abnormal bleeding

However, sometimes a purple period occurs due to factors outside your control, like bleeding disorders or vaginal infections. See your gynecologist for evaluation if purple bleeding becomes routine or severe.

When to see a doctor

Consult your gynecologist promptly if you notice:

– Purple menstrual flow every cycle or most cycles
– Bleeding lasting >7 days or soaking >1 pad per hour
– Bleeding between periods or after sex or menopause
– Severe menstrual cramps or pelvic pain
– Abnormal vaginal discharge with odor or itching
– Painful intercourse
– Abdominal bloating, pressure, or swelling
– Fatigue, weakness, palpitations, dizziness
– Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
– Fever or chills

Recurring purple flow or accompanying symptoms warrant medical assessment to determine the underlying cause. While rare, abnormal uterine bleeding can sometimes indicate cancer. So don’t hesitate to seek care.

Key takeaways

– Light purple menstrual blood occasionally is usually normal, but consistent purple flow suggests a health problem.
– Potential causes include hormonal shifts, infections, endometriosis, fibroids, polyps, cancer, and bleeding disorders.
– See your gynecologist for evaluation of heavy, prolonged, or abnormal purple bleeding.
– Diagnostic tests include a pelvic exam, ultrasound, bloodwork, Pap smear, and possibly biopsy.
– Treatment targets the underlying cause once identified and may include medications, hormonal therapy, or surgery.
– Seek emergency care for heavy bleeding, lightheadedness, fainting, chest pain, fever, or other alarming symptoms.
– Prevention includes routine Pap smears, protected sex, NSAID use, and managing conditions causing abnormal bleeding.


Purple period blood is quite uncommon and merits medical evaluation, especially if it occurs routinely. While it may simply reflect hormonal fluctuations or aging blood, persistent purple flow could indicate vaginal or cervical cancer in some cases. So see your gynecologist promptly for assessment if your regular menstrual periods take on a purple hue. With an accurate diagnosis, most underlying causes can be successfully treated.