A recent report published by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says that a woman's period ought to be treated as a vital sign - the same way we look at blood pressure, pulse and temperature.
While there may be some fluctuations in volume and color, obstetricians and gynecologists have figured out average indications of healthy blood and the warning signs that accompany anything that looks different.
When that time of the month rolls around, it could be a good idea to check in on your own physical health. Take a look at the indicators below - what's your body trying to tell you?
Bright Red Blood
While everyone is a little different, if your flow generally looks bright red, kind of like cherry Kool-Aid, it's a good sign that everything is tickity-boo with you.
You'll see this at the beginning of your cycle, as the uterine lining is shedding new blood at a high rate. If it happens at a different point in your cycle, or occurs with abnormal cramping, there's a possibility that it indicates a miscarriage or a ruptured ovarian cyst.
If you're concerned, check with your doctor.
Brown or Black Blood
Since this blood has been stored up for the longest, you'll notice it more at the end of your period. It typically comes out in a light flow or spotting.
Some women might also notice this at the beginning of their periods - don't worry, that's normal too. It's just blood that has had time to oxidize, which is why it comes out looking brown or black.
Lighter - Pinkish Blood
There are a few factors that contribute to a lighter-colored period, so you'll want to perk up and pay attention if you spot this color in your panty liner.
It could indicate low estrogen levels.
Studies indicate that excessive, intense exercise can lower estrogen levels. So, if you've taken up intense physical activities, like marathon running, and you've noticed this happening, check with your doctor.
Left unchecked, low estrogen can increase your risk of osteoporosis.
Other possibilities include: poor nutrition, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), or perimenopause. As always, check with your doctor when you notice a change in your body's natural menstrual flow.
This could indicate a nutritional deficiency. Monitor your period for about three cycles. If you nothing changes, talk to your doctor about getting tested for deficiencies.
How much is too much? Find out what your body's saying when Aunt Flo comes to town!