Causes of Black Period Blood
Black period blood is a common occurrence for many women during their monthly menstrual cycle. It’s usually caused by old blood that’s been in the uterus for a long time and has had time to oxidize. It’s also common for the first couple of days of your period to be darker than normal due to the uterus expelling built up lining.
There can, however, be some more serious causes for black period blood. In this piece, we’ll be discussing the different potential causes for black period blood:
Menstrual Cycle Hormones
While it is not common, it is normal to experience black period blood during certain times in your menstrual cycle. Most often, the color of this blood indicates it is slightly older than the red blood that usually accompanies your monthly cycle. The common cause of this discoloration can be attributed to the hormone imbalances associated with the menstrual cycle.
During ovulation, hormones responsible for stimulating egg follicle growth and preparing for the potential fertilization of a newly released egg increase significantly. This surge in hormones can cause fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone levels over the course of your cycle – from high levels at mid-cycle to lower levels just before beginning a new period. Depending on when exactly you are starting your menstrual flow, these hormonal transitions can lead to longer turnover time for uterine lining cells and thus darker uptake of iron into red blood cells responsible for global hue change in expelled (menstrual) fluid.
In addition, due to your physiology as well as possible lifestyle or dietary habits which indirectly affect hormone balance, some women may not only experience black blood at the start or end of their period but also throughout their menstruation period or right after their period begins. Hence if you find black spots throughout your pad or within 24 hours after you start menstruating, it too could be an indicator that one’s menstrual hormones are playing a role in changing fluid colors associated with your monthly flow.
Endometrial polyps are one of the possible causes of black period blood. A polyp is an overgrowth of the lining of the uterus and can vary in size, shape and consistency. Polyps often cause heavier, longer periods due to the additional tissue being shed. Black period blood occurs when those pieces are older or have been sitting in the uterus for a longer period of time, giving them a darker appearance.
Other symptoms associated with endometrial polyps may include:
- Vaginal discharge between periods that is usually dark in color.
- Abdominal pain experienced during menstruation.
- Infertility or miscarriages.
- Spotting during or between periods.
Diagnosis is done by pelvic ultrasound to determine if there are any abnormalities present in the endometrium or by biopsy near the uterine wall to test cells for precancerous changes. Treatment options may include medication such as oral contraceptives; hormonal therapy; cryotherapy (freezing) or electrocautery (heating via electrical current). Depending on size and location, it may be necessary to surgically remove larger polyps.
Uterine fibroids are the most common cause of black period blood. Fibroids are noncancerous (benign) growths that develop within the walls of the uterus and range in size from as small as a pea to larger than a grapefruit. Due to their location, uterine fibroids can cause additional monthly bleeding. Generally, this blood is dark red or black and could contain clotting. It may also appear at unexpected times during the month due to the disruption of the fibroid’s placement on the uterine wall.
If a woman experiences unexpected bleeding or unusually heavy bleeding throughout her menstrual cycle, it may be a sign she has fibroids and should speak with her doctor for further evaluation.
Cervical or Uterine Cancer
Cervical or uterine cancer can cause black period blood. Abnormal bleeding caused by these cancers can happen between periods and occur during a period as well. Some of the signs to watch for are:
- a change in the color, odor, or amount of period flow;
- spotting between periods;
- menstrual cycles that become longer than normal;
- bleeding after menopause.
If any of these symptoms occur, it is important to consult your doctor for further assessment and testing. Your doctor may order a biopsy and imaging studies such as an ultrasound exam to determine if cervical cancer is present. Treatment options may include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or surgery.
There are many medications and supplements that can cause a disruption in menstrual cycles, which can lead to black or very dark red menstrual blood. Hormonal birth control pills and injectables, as well as hormone replacement medications, can cause black period blood. Additionally, some antibiotic medications, such as doxycycline and minocycline, can reduce the production of normal protective vaginal bacteria that help to keep the pH of menstrual fluids balanced. This alteration in pH may result in black period blood. Over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen and aspirin may also cause dark colored period blood due to alterations in uterine lining production.
Supplements including vitamin E, fish oils and evening primrose oil may also contribute to black or dark red menstrual blood. If any of these medications are contributing to your condition, your medical practitioner may suggest reducing your dose or stopping the medication altogether.
When to See a Doctor
If you experience black period blood or menstrual bleeding that lasts longer than usual, it is recommended that you see a doctor. Longer or heavier periods can potentially lead to anemia, so it is important to make sure your body is getting the iron it needs.
Some other concerns that might warrant a visit to your doctor include:
- Spotting between periods
- Bleeding or spotting after menopause
- Unusually severe cramps during menstruation
- A smell associated with the blood
- Discomfort during sex or urination around the time of menstruation
You should also seek medical advice if black menstrual bleeding occurs for more than two cycles in a row. Your doctor can offer guidance about using over-the counter pain relievers and may be able to recommend therapies such as hormonal birth control pills or hormonal IUDs to help manage painful symptoms associated with periods. They may also order diagnostic tests to help diagnose any underlying conditions For example; endometriosis, fibroids, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and adenomyosis can all cause blacker menstrual blood than usual.
Black period blood can be an indication of a few possible issues that should be checked by a doctor. Treatment options will depend on the root cause, and it is important to explore these options with a medical professional. In this article, we will take a look at some of the treatment options available if you experience black period blood:
Hormonal Birth Control
Hormonal birth control is one of the most common treatments for heavy and/or irregular periods, and it works by releasing a combination of hormones – namely, estrogen and progestin – that help to regulate your menstrual cycle.
Hormonal birth control can be used in a variety of ways, including pills, patches, injections, implants or intrauterine devices (IUDs). It is important to note that while this type of treatment is effective in controlling menstrual bleeding, it may also bring about side effects such as weight gain, headaches and mood swings. For this reason, it’s important to speak with your healthcare provider about all the potential risks before beginning any hormonal treatment option.
Surgery may be recommended as a treatment option if you experience a large amount of bleeding, or if the bleeding disrupts your daily activities. During surgery, your physician might attempt to remove fibroids from the uterine wall, or you might undergo ablation where tissue is removed from the lining of the uterus. In some cases, a complete hysterectomy may be performed to remove your uterus and possibly your ovaries depending on the type of fibroid present.
While surgical procedures offer quick relief for many women and can often eliminate symptoms entirely, there are potential risks associated with any procedure. These can include infection, heavy bleeding in recovery and even complications from performing anesthesia. It is important to consult with your physician regarding these risks before having surgery.
Medication is often the first treatment for conditions related to menstrual bleeding. For example, a number of hormonal contraceptives can reduce menstrual flow and regulate your cycle. If you are experiencing heavy menstrual bleeding, your doctor may recommend an estrogen-progestin combination pill or a progestin-only pill.
Other medications that can be taken to treat abnormal or unpredictable menstrual cycles include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and blood thinners. NSAIDs such as ibuprofen can help to reduce pain and cramping, while blood thinners like aspirin can help to thin the blood in period-related clots.
If medications do not address the underlying issue causing black period blood, your doctor might suggest alternatives like local hormone therapy with a levonorgestrel intrauterine device (IUD). It releases small amounts of progestin directly into the uterus and helps reduce heavy bleeding without having any systemic effects on body hormones. Surgery is often reserved for extreme cases where other treatments have not been successful.
Although it’s natural to experience changes in your menstrual cycle, black period blood is a cause for concern. To prevent it, it’s important to understand the common factors that contribute to dark colored period blood. Knowing the causes and the steps you can take to help manage them can give you greater control over your health.
Incorporating exercise into your lifestyle is one of the best ways to prevent black blood during menstruation. Exercise helps the uterus contract, reducing the time it takes for your body to release the blood from your system. Women who exercise regularly may also experience lighter flow when their period arrives.
While exercise can provide its’ own set of health benefits, such as improved circulation and stronger muscles, it is important to note that certain exercises should be avoided during a period, including any involving heavy lifting or physically straining moves. It’s best to focus on low-impact exercises like light walking or swimming. These activities can help keep your menstrual cycle regular while providing relief from cramps and other symptoms associated with your monthly cycle.
Eat a Balanced Diet
Eating a balanced diet is the most important factor in maintaining a healthy menstrual cycle and reducing the risk of developing anemia due to heavy menstrual bleeding. A balanced diet should include nutrient-rich foods of all food groups, including fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, low-fat dairy products, wholegrain carbohydrates and unsaturated fats.
Foods such as dark leafy greens, red meat, eggs, enriched grains such as whole grain muffins, oranges and strawberries are recommended since they are good sources of iron. Iron helps to create hemoglobin which carries oxygen from the lungs to your body’s tissue. Increasing your intake of iron can help improve circulation and reduce fatigue caused by iron-deficiency anemia. Additionally, adding vitamin C rich foods such as citrus fruits to your meals can help the body absorb more iron from other food sources.
Including more vitamin B6 in your diet can also be beneficial as it plays a key role in hormone production during the menstrual cycle. Good sources include:
- Fish such as salmon or tuna;
- Dairy products like yogurt or milk;
- Complex carbohydrates such as oatmeal or brown rice;
- Legumes such as kidney beans or chickpeas;
- Treetops like spinach and baked potatoes with skins on them.
Making sure you get plenty of fluids is also important for balancing hormones during your period so be sure to drink at least 6-8 glasses of water each day to keep everything running smoothly!
Stress and tension can impact your entire body, including your periods. High levels of stress can cause irregularities in the menstrual cycle, such as heavier or lighter bleeding than usual. This also means that you may also experience black period blood with high stress levels.
Reducing stress can help to regulate your cycle and prevent black period blood from occurring. While everyone handles stress differently, there are a few ideas that may be able to help:
- Exercise is an excellent way to manage stress, and yoga has been proven to be an incredibly effective practice for reducing tension and relaxation of the mind and body.
- Finding time for yourself to practice things like meditation and deep breathing can help focus the mind and keep it in check when challenges arise.
- Talking through problems with friends or family members can offer a different perspective to troubling issues should they arise throughout your life.
Avoid Alcohol and Tobacco
Avoid excessive consumption of alcohol and tobacco, as these substances are known to impair normal menstrual function. Women who consume large amounts of alcohol may experience spotting between periods and a decrease in fertility. High levels of nicotine consumption have also been linked to irregular menstrual cycles and increased risks for miscarriage, premature labor or low birth weight infants.
To maintain healthy period blood levels, it’s best to avoid both alcohol and tobacco whenever possible.