Love it or hate it, month after month, the red fluid called menstrual discharge makes its presence felt to you. Have you ever wondered what this fluid, which is an important part of every woman’s reproductive life, is made of?
Menstrual discharge, more appropriately called menstrual fluid, comprises a healthy flow of uterine blood in a periodic basis. A healthy woman in her menstrual span is expected to have menstrual discharge once a month. The discharged blood is actually the endometrial tissue that has disintegrated due to non-conception (the endometrium is the innermost lining of the uterus that forms a vascular tissue in preparation of fetal implantation and when that does not happen, it disintegrates). It differs from the normal blood circulating in the body as its composition, texture, color, consistency and structure varies from the regular blood flowing in other parts of the body.
What is Menstrual Fluid Composed of ?
The menstrual discharge in a human female varies from 1 tablespoonful – 6 tablespoonfuls during every menstruation with 2.5 tablespoonfuls being the average volume. This reddish brown fluid which is of a darker tone than blood is composed not only of blood, but also other vaginal secretions, endometrial tissue and cervical fluids. The disintegrated endometrial lining, which looks like long gelatinous strands, intersperses the menstrual fluid and is discharged with it. Plasmin, an enzyme, prevents the menstrual fluid from clotting.
The composition of menstrual fluid has been studied by tissue sampling and cytology (the study of cells). It has been predicted and observed that the menstrual blood has a number of important substances that play an important role in conception. A couple of the first substances to be noticed are hydrolytic enzymes and lysosomes which are involved in disintegrating or breaking the endometrial tissue when no pregnancy occurs during the conception period for that month.
White blood cells, vaginal secretions and other substances present in the menstrual discharge give it a composition which is altered from that of the peripheral blood. Proteins required for the growth of the ovum are discharged in menstrual blood. Other enzymes involved in the creation of the endometrium and its disintegration are also found. In essence, the menstrual discharge is a rich and complex fluid of all important enzymes and other substances required for the occurrence and support of a new life form in the uterus. When pregnancy does not happen, the reproductive fluids do not find any purpose to remain in the uterus and they find their way out of the human body via menstruation.
The Different Colors and Textures of Menstrual Fluid
Menstrual discharge differs in color and texture depending upon the time duration between their production and their discharge. The color and texture of the menstrual blood does not indicate any status of uterine or reproductive health unless you observe some high abnormality in them.
Bright red menstrual fluid indicates freshness both in the peripheral blood and the menstrual blood. In the case of menstruation it implies the outflow of the freshly disintegrated endometrial tissue. You get to see this when you have light flow and when your periods are frequent.
Dark red menstrual blood is one that has been stored in the uterus for a longer time after production. You get to see this early in the morning after resting for the night.
Brown or black discharge is not an issue to be alarmed about. It is not diseased or infected blood. It is just blood that is old. It is probably one that has been stuck in the uterine folds or fluid that has been stored for a long time in the uterus in people who menstruate infrequently.
Orange discharge is slightly unusual. This may happen when the percentage of cervical mucus is more in the red blood and when there may be an infection in the blood. Consult your doctor if you notice orange colored bleeding in you to confirm that there is no pathogen associated with it.
Thin Menstrual Fluid is fresh fluid which has not clotted already.
Appearance of tissue in the blood may happen due to a miscarriage. They look like heavy pieces in the blood. Secretion of tissue in the blood should be notified to your doctor.
Heavily clotted menstrual blood contains solid or semi-solid structures that flow out with the menstrual fluid. This is usually seen in the case of heavy periods in which case the anticoagulants are not secreted into the menstrual blood as rapidly as their discharge from the body.
Jelly-like smooth textured slippery discharge occurs due to presence of cervical mucus in the menstrual blood. Cervical mucus is always present in the menstrual fluid; when the endometrial flow is light, the percentage of mucous in the fluid is more and ultimately the fluid that flows out is slippery in texture.
Menstrual Discharge Myths
It is commonly believed that women lose a significant amount of iron during menstruation, but this is not true. Menstruation is a normal phenomenon and the composition of the regular blood is not altered significantly due to it.
Another myth is that menstrual discharge is the same as regular peripheral blood and its loss causes weakness in the female body. This is not true. The menstrual discharge comprises endometrial tissue and uterine fluid wasted due to non-conception and its flow does not affect the volume of normal blood in the human body. Therefore, a healthy woman does not feel any bodily weakness when she loses menstrual fluid. Women who report weakness are the ones who are suffering from other ailments like anemia etc.
How is Menstrual Fluid Used?
For many of us menstrual fluid is a messy substance and we want to get rid of it as soon as possible. But recent scientific research shows that the menstrual fluid is of great value as it has stem cells that can be used in futuristic therapies. This fluid which would be thrown away by women is now being collected and preserved by menstrual fluid harvesters for stem cell culture. Women, by selling their body fluid to these stem cell culture laboratories, have found an extra source of income for themselves.