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Black Blood Period: Causes, Treatment Options & What Is It Means?

7 min read
Black Blood Period: Causes, Treatment Options & What Is It Means?

During menstruation, the uterus sheds tissue and blood through the vaginal area. Depending on how old the discharge is, it can vary in colour from bright red to dark brown to black.

When blood remains in the uterus for a long period of time, it will oxidize (react with oxygen). The blood will appear darker after it has oxidized.

Although black vaginal discharge may look alarming, it isn't always a cause for concern. During your monthly cycle, you may see this colour, usually around the time of your regular period.

When blood takes longer to exit the uterus, it oxidizes. Consequently, it may appear brown to dark brown or black in colour. The colour may even resemble coffee grounds.

What does black period blood mean?

Generally, black period blood occurs at the beginning or end of the period. The color transformation is due to blood oxidation. In other words, hemoglobin and iron in the blood mix with oxygen, turning it brown, then black.

It is perfectly normal if it occurs in a low volume. However, if it is in high volume and lasts for more than the usual cycle, it could be a uterine problem or hormonal changes.

When period blood takes a long time to be discharged from the body, it gets oxidized. It’s then expelled out from the uterus as black blood during periods. It may appear like a black or brownish-black jelly or resemble coffee grounds.

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Is Black Period Blood Normal?

According to New York City-based ob-gyn Dr Rebecca Brightman, black period blood is not a cause for alarm. It is perfectly normal to occur at the end of the period when the blood remains longer within the body.

When the discharge of the uterine lining stops, the flow lightens. The blood starts discharging slowly. In the meantime, the remaining blood gets oxidized and comes out as black discharge instead of period. It is the residual blood that gets darker the older it is.

It is normal if it lasts for two days. However, if it is observed beyond seven days, you should see the doctor as soon as possible.

Why Is My Period Blood Black? - 9 Main Causes

The period blood color is one of the indicators of women's reproductive and overall health. However, you need not panic if you discharge black blood during periods. There can be multiple reasons, including age, environment, and lifestyle, among others.

1) Sign of beginning or end of the period

As said earlier, the black blood period shows that your period will commence or will end. Generally, blood flow is slower during these two phases. The color transformation from red to black is due to the time and flow of blood as it has been in the uterus.

Moreover, the longer it remains, the darker it gets. This indicates that the uterine lining will start dissolving within a few hours or in a day or two. Eventually, the flow speeds up with sloughing of the uterine lining.

2) Foreign objects stuck in the vagina

One of the causes of black discharge instead of period is the presence of foreign objects in the vagina. It can be a tampon (when forgotten) or any contraceptive device placed in the vagina.

According to Dr Siddhartha, these occurrences can be very problematic for your vagina, causing infections. It can result in black blood discharge, foul odor, or itchy vaginal discharge.

Some objects like rings, condoms, cervical caps, sex toys, diaphragms, or sponges might also irritate your vaginal lining, causing infection and leading to

  • Prolonged black blood discharge
  • Swelling and rashes in the genital area
  • Difficulty in urinating
  • Itching and discomfort around the vaginal area
  • Pelvic and abdominal pain
  • Vaginal discharge with nasty odor, etc.

If you observe any of the above issues with the black blood period, consult a doctor as soon as possible.

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3) Infections transmitted sexually

STI or sexually transmitted infections caused due to chlamydia or gonorrhea lead to rapid degeneration of period blood, transforming it into a dark discharge. These incidences of black blood period are accompanied by a foul smell and dark discharge before and after menstruation.

Other symptoms include burning sensation while urinating, unpleasant or curdy vaginal discharge, itchiness, etc. Leaving these STI symptoms untreated may further impact the uterus and other reproductive organs and lead to pelvic inflammatory disease and various complications like infertility.

4) Chances of cervical cancer

When a black blood period presents along with irregular bleeding, especially after sex or during periods, it is a warning sign of cervical cancer. In the early stages of cervical cancer, the symptoms are almost negligible. However, in the advanced stages, symptoms can include:

  • Fatigue
  • Bloody, watery, and heavy vaginal discharge
  • Unpleasant odor and vaginal discharge often transforming into black or dark brown period blood
  • Heavier or longer periods
  • Difficulty in urinating or passing a bowel movement

Endometriosis is the condition when endometrial tissue grows outside the uterus. Such issues and adenomyosis lead to chronic pain in the pelvic region, causing dark blemishes.

This leads to black discharge instead of a period, similar to coffee grounds. It may also cause black blood menstruation, which may last more than seven days. Consult your gynecologist for further medication if you observe such symptoms.

6) Postpartum Lochia

Lochia is a condition of vaginal bleeding that lasts for six to eight weeks after childbirth. In the early days (within 2-5 days of childbirth), a high amount of blood gets oxidized, turning considerably dark such that it often looks black.

However, once the oxidized blood gets discharged, the blood gradually lightens to red, then yellow or creamy, and eventually stops. In these 45 days, all the uterine lining and blood get expelled from the uterus.

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7) Miscarriage

Generally, a miscarriage occurs within 20 weeks of pregnancy. Women often confuse the dark spotting, indicating an early miscarriage, with a black blood period. The black blood period further leads to heavy bleeding, the final sign of miscarriage.

However, the individual can still feel the pregnancy signs, a condition known as a missed miscarriage. It is the situation when the embryo stops growing (or is dead) but fails to get expelled from the body.

8) Result of implantation bleeding

Implantation bleeding occurs when the fertilized egg (typically after 10-14 days) implants itself in the uterus. The flow lasts for a few days, wherein the blood is generally light. However, it turns black if it exits the vagina late.

In such cases of black period blood pregnant women face, they may discharge dark brown to brownish-black blood. However, consult your doctor if a dark blood discharge presents even after implantation bleeding stops.

9) Emotional and hormonal changes and menopause

Excessive stress and depressive situations impact the uterus structure while reducing its wall thickness. Such emotional changes affect the uterine lining, which delays the cell peeling. This delay causes quick blood oxidation, making the period blood dark brown to black. Hormonal changes or menopause also result in period blood darkening.

Thyroid problems in women lead to hormonal changes, which result in period delay and black blood periods. It may also happen when a woman switches contraceptive pills. Some pills delay the period, leading to blood oxidation, eventually transforming it into black.

Retained menses or hematocolpos is also one of the reasons behind black blood during periods. It occurs when period blood fails to pass the vaginal canal, eventually filling the vagina. Slowly, the accumulated blood grows darker with time. Such blockages or retained menses can be caused due to:

  • Congenital conditions of the hymen
  • Cervical agenesis or absence of cervix
  • Cervical atresia or surgical complications, etc.

In cases of severe blockage, when menstrual blood fails to exit the vagina, it may cause a complete lack of menses (amenorrhea).

Black Period Blood Treatment Options

Generally, a black blood period is a normal part of menstruation, not requiring any special treatment. However, when the flow is heavier, followed by symptoms like unpleasant odor, fever, pelvic and abdominal pain, it is advised to consult a doctor.

The treatment options depend on the causes of the black discharge. Some possible options to treat black blood discharge are described below:

  • Get foreign or vaginal objects examined and removed by a doctor, especially when you feel dark discharge, pain, or fever.
  • Missed miscarriages get resolved themselves. However, many patients need quick medical assistance. Such remedies include curettage procedure and dilation to remove the uterus's remaining tissues or prescription drugs.
  • Surgery is required to treat the initial cause of blockage in case of retained menses.
  • Antibiotics help treat black blood period discharge caused due to pelvic inflammatory diseases or STIs. Following proper precautions (as doctors suggest) is vital to protect oneself from re-infection.

When to See a Doctor?

One must consult a doctor or gynecologist in case of these symptoms:

  • Unusual or new blood discharge
  • Whitish or thick grey vaginal discharge
  • Bleeding post menopause
  • Missing more than one or two periods
  • Irregular periods, causing changes in the length and flow of period blood from one month to another
  • Itchiness around vagina or swelling around it
  • Fever and chronic pelvic pain along with black blood discharge
  • Foul-smelling vagina, etc.

Apart from these symptoms, if pregnant women witness unusual vaginal discharge or bleeding, they must speak to their gynecologist.

Everyone's period blood, flow, and consistency differ. However, the color of healthy period blood varies from bright red to brown or black. If you have orange or greyish blood discharge, it is a warning sign of infection. Hence, analyze the situation and consult your doctor accordingly.

How Long Does Black Period Last?

It is common for the black period to last for up to two days. If you consistently see black or dark brown blood at the end of a period for longer than that, you should see your doctor.

Summing Up on Black Blood Period

Black discharge at the beginning and end of your period is usually nothing to worry about.

Usually, a period lasts 3 to 10 days and occurs every 3 to 6 weeks. It can fluctuate from month to month. Bleeding or black discharge outside of this general time frame is considered irregular and should be discussed with a doctor.

See a doctor if you see black discharge if you are pregnant or have recently delivered a baby. If you experience other unusual symptoms, like fever or cramping, you should seek medical attention immediately.

You should also consult your doctor if you experience black discharge or any other unexpected bleeding after reaching menopause. This could indicate a serious underlying condition.


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