Black Discharge: Should I Be Concerned?
Clear, or white vaginal discharge is a healthy way for your vagina to keep itself clean. It happens throughout the menstrual cycle and during pregnancy. But, what about if it’s black?
Despite its alarming color, black vaginal discharge isn’t necessarily always a cause for concern and may in fact be quite normal. You may even see this color usually around the time of your regular menstrual period.
When your blood takes more time to get out of the uterus, it oxidizes, which causes your discharge to appear deep brownish, dark brown or black in color. It might even bear some resemblance to coffee grounds.
Keep on reading this article for more information about this sometimes alarming problem and advice for how to deal with it.
Causes of Black Discharge
What causes this problem? That’s a great question!
Although there are other cases where a black discharge is a sign for you to see your doctor and here are some of the causes you should be aware of.
#1: Forgotten Or Stuck Object
Black discharge may be a sign that you have a foreign object stuck in your vagina. Incidents like this might happen if or when you forgot about a tampon or may have accidentally put in a second one at the end of your period.
Other objects that end up getting stuck or forgotten in your vagina may include contraceptive devices such as caps or sponges, condoms and sex toys. After a while, the foreign object irritates your vagina’s uterine lining and may cause an infection.
Other symptoms may include:
- Discomfort or itching in and around the vagina.
- Foul-smelling discharge.
- Having problems urinating.
- Rash or swelling around the genitals.
#2: Start or End of Your Menstrual Cycle
Sometimes, at the beginning or end of your menstrual cycle, your menstrual flow may be slower. Because of this, the blood in your uterus could take longer to get out of your body and change from its usual red color to dark brown or black.
If you experience black spotting before your period, it might be the blood from our last period. In this case, your vagina is merely cleaning itself.
#3: Implantation Bleeding and Early Pregnancy
Bleeding during early pregnancy is quite common, especially during the time of a late or missed period. This is when the implantation process starts, which is when the egg embeds itself in the lining of the uterus, roughly 10 to 14 days after conception. If the blood takes some time before exiting out of the vagina, it may oxidize and turn black.
Other early pregnancy signs include:
- Frequent urination
- Vomiting and nausea (morning sickness)
- Missed menstrual period
- Swollen or tender breasts
However, it’s worth noting that not all women experience bleeding from implantation, and even if you did, it should be light.
But if the spotting or bleeding you experience turns into a heavy flow or lasts longer for a couple of days, then you should go see a doctor. It’s likely that you’re not pregnant.
Learn more about Black Vaginal Discharge and Pregnancy
#4: Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
Gonorrhea and chlamydia are just some of the sexually transmitted infections (STIs) that can cause bleeding and strange discharge. A black discharge may occur due to older blood leaving the uterus or vaginal canal. Any heavy vaginal discharge accompanied by a foul smell may also be symptoms of these infections.
Other symptoms may include:
- painful urination
- vaginal itching
- spotting between periods
- pain or pressure in your pelvis
- bleeding during or after sexual intercourse
Be cautious; STIs don’t go away eventually and without antibiotic treatment, they could infect your vagina and also spread to your reproductive organs, ultimately causing pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
PID symptoms are identical to other STIs, but you may also experience fever with or without chills. This disease, if left untreated, may cause other complications such as infertility or chronic pain.
#5: Lochia (Post-Partum Bleeding)
Lochia is when bleeding happens four to six weeks after delivering a baby. It starts out as a heavy red flow with small clots and then slows down after a few days. After the 4th day, your discharge’s color changes from red to pink or brown. If the flow gets slow, then the color of your bleeding may come out as dark brown or black.
After some time before stopping completely, the color of the discharge should change back to creamy or yellow.
If you experience any bright red blood, a foul-smelling discharge, or clots larger than plum, weeks after giving birth, tell your doctor right away.
#6: Missed Miscarriage
One of the most unfortunate phenomenons that black spotting and bleeding lead to is missed miscarriage. It is when the embryo stops developing but has not been released by the body after four or more weeks.
The chances of a pregnancy ending in a miscarriage are between 10-20%. Most of these miscarriages happen even before a fetus reaches 10 weeks’ gestation.
Sadly, you may not experience symptoms of a miscarriage and the only way of knowing about it is when they undergo a routine ultrasound.
Other symptoms may include cramping, faintness, etc.
#7: Retained Menses
Hematocolpos, otherwise known as retained menses, is a condition in which menstrual blood is blocked from exiting the cervix, uterus or vagina. Due to this, the blood may turn black as it is being retained. This blockage can be caused by a congenital issue with the vaginal septum, or hymen. In small cases, it may be caused by the absence of a cervix (cervical agenesis).
Some women may not even experience any symptoms, whereas others may find that the symptoms are cyclical. This means that they happen in times of an expected menstrual cycle.
#8: Emergency Contraception
One of the possible causes of black, or dark brown vaginal discharge is the morning after pill. You might notice some dark-coloured discharge between two regular periods.
High levels of stress over a period of time can do all kinds of crazy things to your period, including making them very irregular. You could also experience some brown or black discharge or spotting between periods as a result of this.
Basically, your body is fighting for survival, and things like production of reproductive hormones become less important.
#10: Ovarian Cyst
Another possible cause for black discharge is a cyst in the ovaries. As long as they don’t rupture, they’re usually not a big problem.
However, when they do rupture, cysts can cause some serious bleeding. It may look like black or brown discharge. Visit your doctor because this can be a potentially serious situation.
#11: Cervical Cancer
This is a serious condition in which you may have some spotting or unusual coloured discharge at random times. You may also notice that your discharge is foul-smelling.
What’s the moral of this story? If you detect any changes in your menstrual cycle, or usual discharge, please visit your doctor.
It may be nothing, but it could also be a serious problem. It’s worth getting checked out.
#12: Hormonal Birth Control
If you’re a woman on hormonal birth control, you may notice some dark spotting mid-cycle. This is because you might have a thinner uterine lining and may not get a regular period. Instead, you could just have some dark spotting. It can sometimes look like black discharge.
#13: Cervical Stenosis
This is a serious problem that mostly occurs in older women and can cause some dark coloured discharge. It’s the narrowing of the cervix which can result in the slowing of menstrual flow.
Because the menstrual fluid is exposed to the air for a very long period of time, it may be very dark in color.
This painful disorder is when tissue that normally grows in the uterus grows outside of it in other reproductive organs (the Fallopian tubes or ovaries for example). These tissues can have build-ups of thick, black blood.
#15: Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
PID is usually the result of an untreated STI. It’s an infection of the female reproductive tract, and one of the symptoms can be a very dark coloured discharge (along with pelvic pain, fever, painful periods or urination, etc.)
#16: Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
This hormonal imbalance can cause irregular bleeding that may look like dark discharge. Some other symptoms include irregular periods, acne, excessive facial or body hair, pelvic pain, infertility and patches of dark skin on the body.
#17: A Dry Vagina
If you have some brownish discharge, especially after menopause when the walls of the vagina get very thin, it could be that you have a very dry vagina.
This symptom can also happen during perimenopause, which happens around the age of 50, and is characterized by changing hormone levels.
#18: Other Causes for Black Discharge
There are a number of other reasons for darker-coloured vaginal discharge.
Learn more about Vaginal Discharge
When Should I Visit my Doctor for Black Discharge?
Okay, so you’ve got the black vaginal discharge thing going on. When does is require a visit to the doctor? You should make an appointment if…
- There’s an abundance of discharge, or it’s increasing in frequency
- It lasts for days
- Your black discharge smells bad
- You have other symptoms like pain, itching, burning, painful urination or sex, or fatigue
- You are post-menopausal. Any sort of unusual discharge or bleeding after you’ve reached menopause is certainly something to check in with your doctor about
However, these is no one definitive test to deal with this type of problem. So, it may take some time to figure out the route cause, and then course of treatment.
Treatment For Black Vaginal Discharge
The black discharge is part of your menstrual cycle and does not require any special treatment. But when the discharge is heavy and is followed by other symptoms such as pain, fever or foul odor, then it is vital to see your doctor.
There are a number of reasons why you might be experiencing this, and the treatment depends heavily on the reason.
Treating black discharge depends on the cause. For instance:
- Infections such as PID can be treated by antibiotics. Follow each and every instruction that your doctor tells you of and be sure to take measures to prevent getting infected again, such as practicising safe sex.
- Doctors should be tasked with removing foreign objects in the vagina.
- Surgery is recommended for retained menses in order to treat underlying conditions that resulted in the blockage.
- If missed marriage doesn’t resolve on its own, your doctor may recommend a dilation and curettage (D&C) procedure. Over here, medical instruments and medication are used by the doctor to dilate your cervix while under anesthesia. A surgical tool known as a curette is then used to remove any tissue.
- Treating cervical cancer may require radiation, surgery, chemotherapy or even a collection of these treatments.
Are there any Home Remedies for Black Discharge?
As you can see, the treatment really depends very heavily on the underlying cause of the vaginal discharge. There are also some very serious conditions (cervical cancer) that require treatment from a medical professional, not a home remedy.
It’s for these reasons that we can’t give you any one specific home remedy that’ll work for this situation. That said, there are some supplements and home remedies to help regulate your menstrual cycle in general that you may want to try.
Read more here:
My Discharge is More Grey than Black
Normally, the difference between black and grey isn’t a big deal. However, in this case it might be.
In general, grey discharge is related to some sort of infection. In particular, bacterial vaginosis discharge is often grey, thin and foul-smelling/fishy. You may also notice some itching.
You can learn more here: Everything you Need to Know about Bacterial Vaginosis.
Another condition to consider is trichomoniasis. One of the symptoms is yellow-grey, or green discharge. You may also notice some pain and swelling along with it.
Both of these conditions require a visit to your doctor and likely antibiotic treatment.
How to Maintain Optimal Vaginal Health
There are a number of things you can do to maintain a healthy vagina, free from infections and discharge issues. Here are a few tips.
#1: Practice Good Hygiene
Taking regular showers can go a long way towards preventing problems with discharge or infections. You don’t need to use soap in, or around your vagina but instead just spray the area off with with water and then pat dry well.
#2: Use Condoms
Condoms are the best way to prevent sexually transmitted infections (besides abstinence of course!). Use them with all new partners, and if you have multiple sexual partners.
Also be sure to get regular STI checks.
#3: Air it Out
Bacteria love to grow in warm, moist environments. Try to avoid wearing leggings and tights, or not changing out of your swimsuit or workout gear after you’re done.
#4: Front to Back, Not the Other Way Around
When you take a poop, be sure to wipe from front to back, and not the other way around. This will help to prevent fecal matter from getting into your vagina.
#5: Maintain Good Overall Health
It’s helpful to maintain good overall health in order to prevent all kinds of problems. Get enough sleep, eat healthy foods, exercise regularly and be sure to drink lots of water.
#6: Use Cotton Underwear
Silk, polyester, or other synthetic underwear can lead to an increase in vaginal infections. Stick with cotton underwear because it’s more breathable than the other options.
#7: Avoid Douching
If you have some discharge going on, you may be tempted to use douche in order to solve this problem. It may in fact make it worse because it can disrupt the pH balance of your vagina.
Black Discharge: Have your Say
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