What Does Black Period Blood Mean
You may be alarmed to see black blood, but it isnt necessarily a reason to worry. This color is related to brown blood, which is old blood. It may resemble coffee grounds. Black blood is usually blood thats taking some extra time to leave the uterus.
Brown discharge of all shades is typically a sign of old blood. The blood has had time to oxidize, which is why its changed hues from the standard red.
Brown blood is associated with:
The beginning or end of your period
When your flow is slow, the blood may take longer to exit your body. When blood stays in the uterus longer, it may become brown in color. The blood may also be left over from your last period.
The bleeding women experience for the first four to six weeks after delivering a baby is called lochia. It starts out relatively heavy. Then from day four onward, lochia may be pinkish or brownish in color.
If you experience spotting during pregnancy, some of it may be brown if the active bleed has stopped. Its a good idea to call your doctor regardless.
Although miscarriage may be associated with bright red bleeding, some women may experience whats called a missed miscarriage. With this type of pregnancy loss, the fetus stops developing but doesnt pass from the uterus for at least 4 weeks. You may not experience heavy bleeding or clots, but some women do develop dark brown spotting or bleeding.
How Is Abnormal Uterine Bleeding Diagnosed
The tests your doctor orders may depend on your age. If you could be pregnant, your doctor may order a pregnancy test. If your bleeding is heavy, in addition to other tests, your doctor may want to check your blood count to make sure you dont have a low blood count from the blood loss. This could lead to iron deficiency and anemia.
An ultrasound exam of your pelvic area shows both the uterus and the ovaries. It may also show the cause of your bleeding.
Your doctor may want to do an endometrial biopsy. This is a test of the uterine lining. Its done by putting a thin plastic tube into your uterus. Your doctor will use the catheter to remove a tiny piece of the uterine lining. He or she will send that lining to the lab for testing. The test will show if you have cancer or a change in the cells. A biopsy can be done in the doctors office and causes only mild pain.
Another test is a hysteroscopy. A thin tube with a tiny camera in it is put into your uterus. The camera lets your doctor see the inside of your uterus. If anything abnormal shows up, your doctor can get tissue for a biopsy.
You Have Uterine Fibroids
Uterine fibroids are a type of benign tumor that grow in and around the wall of the uterus. Though doctors havent identified a specific cause of fibroids, they do say that African American women and overweight women are more at risk for developing them. Spotting is one of the main side effects, along with infertility, painful sex, lower back pain, and a chronically bloated feeling. In other words, dont assume you have uterine fibroids just because youre spotting. There are a lot of other causes that are far more likely.
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Types Of Bleeding Between Periods
Here are the different types of bleeding that can occur between your periods.
- Spotting: This is when theres just a red tinge on the toilet paper or a drop or two of blood in your underwear. Medically, its only considered spotting if its not during your period and doesnt require you to use a pad or tampon.
- Light bleeding: This type of bleeding occurs just before or after your period and isnt technically spottingits considered part of your period.
- Breakthrough bleeding: Breakthrough bleeding is when bleeding occurs between your periods if you are taking oral contraceptives. Its usually caused by low estrogen levels.
- Abnormal bleeding: This describes any heavy bleeding outside of your cycle that isnt due to hormonal birth control pills. It is often called abnormal uterine bleeding or abnormal vaginal bleeding.
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What Is Spotting Between Periods
A normal menstrual cycle occurs every 28 days, followed by menstrual bleeding that usually lasts for about 4-7 days. It doesnt have to be exactly 28 days interval but can range from 21 to 35 days. Young girls may experience their periods somewhere from 21 to 45 days or more apart. Women in their 40s will frequently have less frequent menstrual cycle. Some women experience menstrual cycles for longer times, some women experience less.
Spotting is the vaginal bleeding after your menstrual period and before your next period. It can be a pink or brown spot on your underwear or toilet paper while wiping. Spotting can also be noticed as a blood spot or two, or more, and can even potentially resemble a menstrual period. Spotting can occur for many reasons, ranging from normal to abnormal. Sometimes too, it is difficult to ascertain the real cause. If you think you may be experiencing spotting check to ensure that the bleeding is coming from the vagina and is not from your rectum or the urine. To check that the bleeding is coming from your vagina, cervix or uterus, insert a tampon into the vagina. If you are still not sure, a careful medical examination by your health care provider is most frequently the best way to discover the source of the bleeding. The medical exam can be done even while you are bleeding.
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Signs And Symptoms Of Heavy Menstrual Bleeding
Symptoms of heavy menstrual bleeding may include:
- Soaking through one or more sanitary pads or tampons every hour for several consecutive hours
- Needing to wake up to change sanitary protection during the night
- Needing to use double sanitary protection to control the menstrual flow
- Menstrual bleeding that lasts longer than a week
- Symptoms of anemia, like fatigue, light-headedness and shortness of breath
- Passing blood clots larger than a quarter
- Restricting activities because of heavy menstrual flow
Reasons To Worry About Spotting After Period
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When Do You Call Your Healthcare Provider If You Suspect Heavy Period Bleeding
You should call your provider if you’re experiencing the symptoms of heavy menstrual bleeding or anemia, or if your period bleeding has become abnormal. Tracking your periods using a calendar or app can help you identify if your periods are heavier and longer-lasting than usual. Share these notes with your provider.
You should also schedule an appointment if you notice that you’re having to double-up on menstrual products or if you’re skipping activities you enjoy because of heavy bleeding.
Can heavy menstrual bleeding be life-threatening?
Heavy periods arent usually life-threatening, but they can be if you lose too much blood. Bleeding through two or more tampons or pads each hour for two hours in a row is a sign that you should see your provider or seek emergency care immediately.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Just because heavy periods are common doesn’t mean that you have to learn to live with the discomfort they cause. If managing your blood flow is getting in the way of your emotional and physical well-being, speak with your provider. They can provide a care path that will provide relief.
You Are On A Birth Control Pill
Are you currently taking any birth control pill? Then it may be the reason you are spotting after your period. During the first few months on a pill, you may notice spotting sometimes. As your body adjusts to these synthetic hormones, it usually stops by the 3rd to 6th month. Therefore, any spotting on the pill may not be a problem just yet.
Do you feel heavy bleeding with blood clots? Then is important to contact your healthcare provider.
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What Is The Difference Between The Period Spotting And Bleeding
The lines between menstrual bleeding , spotting, and non-menstrual bleeding can get kind of confusing.
Menstrual bleeding is bleeding that is associated with the shedding of the endometrium at the end of the menstrual cycle.
Spotting has different definitions, depending on who you ask.
Researchers and healthcare providers often describe spotting as bleeding that doesnât require sanitary protection .
However, this is kind of an arbitrary definition. Even if bleeding isnât heavy, some people may just choose to use protection anyway.
In theory, spotting can happen at any time during your cycle, so around the period or between periods. Below we talk more about spotting vs. the period.
Bleeding that doesnât seem to be associated with the period, such as bleeding during the middle of your cycle, that requires sanitary protection is called non-menstrual bleeding. Sometimes people describe this bleeding as heavy spotting.
In the rest of this article, weâre going to refer to all non-menstrual bleeding as âspottingâ for convenience.
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Pregnancy Loss In The Second Trimester
After about week 12, pregnancy loss is no longer considered early. Only 12% of losses happen at this stage, before week 24.
In the second trimester, a person may not have any indication of pregnancy loss until they go for a routine scan.
See a doctor at once if blood or fluid passes from the vagina or if the baby has stopped moving.
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Can You Bleed Heavy And Still Be Pregnant
Its best to follow up with your healthcare provider about any unusual uterine bleeding, especially if its on the heavier side or is accompanied by clots. If youre already pregnant and experiencing what seems like implantation bleeding, you may just be experiencing a fairly common symptom in early pregnancy.
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What Do Large Blood Clots During A Period Mean
For some women, the discomfort of menstruation can mean a day or two away from work each month. Symptoms like heavy flow, abdominal cramps, and back pain are made even worse by the presence of blood clots during period. Theyre frightening to see and difficult to understand. But the professionals at North Texas Fibroids in Flower Mound, Cedar Hill, and Dallas, TX, can ease your fears, answer questions, and even provide relief.
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How Are Heavy Periods Treated
The choice of treatment will depend on the cause of your bleeding. If a reason for the heavy bleeding is found, such as a fibroid, this will be treated.
However, sometimes no cause for heavy periods can be found. In these cases, heavy periods can be treated by medicines or by surgery, with the aim of decreasing the amount of bleeding. Some treatments may stop your periods completely and others may affect your fertility.Considerations for treatment include your age, general health, whether you require contraception or want to have children. Some treatments are ongoing and others are done one time.
Discuss all your options with your doctor to decide which is best for you.
What To Do If You Experience Spotting
Its important to track when spotting is happening and any other symptoms to share with your clinician.
You can make a few notes in a calendar on your phone or in a planner. Write down if you notice any major changes in the bleeding pattern or if the spotting is associated with symptoms that impact your life.
See your OB/Gyn or advanced practice provider if the irregular bleeding persists, gets worse, recurs, or if you experience any postmenopausal bleeding or bleeding after sex.
Also, if this irregular bleeding is associated with other symptoms, such as easy bruising, dizziness, fever, abnormal vaginal discharge or abdominal/pelvic pain, let your clinician know.
Your clinician may perform a pelvic exam, obtain cultures or order blood tests or imaging to take a closer look. He or she may also change your medication.
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Consequences Of Ignoring Vaginal Bleeding Between Periods
In some cases, this kind of abnormal bleeding will resolve on its own. However, for some women, the underlying cause requires treatment. Ignoring the problem and failing to see a doctor can lead to a worsening of the problem. If the cause of the bleeding is an infection, cancer, or another serious disorder, the consequences could be life-threatening.
Possible Consequences Of Menorrhagia
Menorrhagia is a condition so extreme that you shouldnt take it for granted. Heres what your doctor might tell you about the consequences of playing ignorant.
- Anemia. It is an obvious consequence. Losing more blood than you replace every month will cause you to turn pale to the whims of anemia before long. This happens in two forms. Blood loss leads to reduction in the number of red blood cells being circulated. This turns you pale and also reduces hemoglobin which helps in oxygen transportation to tissues.
Now when it comes to iron deficiency anemia, you find out that this occurs in the bid for your body to replace the red blood cells it lost by using up your bodys stored up iron to produce hemoglobin that will help transport oxygen to your body tissues. This causes iron depletion.
- Severe dysmenorrhea. Menstrual cramps come naturally with your periods and therefore causing you to witness painful menstruation. But menorrhagia makes dysmenorrhea look like an amateur when it comes to causing painful cramps because then it becomes so severe due to heavy menstrual bleeding with clots larger than a quarter that you might need to be evaluated medically.
Nobody wants to live through this much pain, you definitely dont want either. So make sure youve got timely medical help.
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When Should You See A Doctor For Heavy Bleeding
You should call the attention of your doctor when you notice one or some of the following symptoms:
- Extremely heavy menstrual bleeding from the vagina which soaks one tampon at least within the space of two hours.
- Irregular vaginal bleeding. Always take note of when you begin to notice bleeding in between periods.
Your Treatment Options Summarised
Oral contraceptive pill
POP or mini-pill
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How Are Period Blood Clots Treated
First, youll need to find out whats causing your heavy periods. Discuss your symptoms with your ob-gyn, and get ready to go over your menstrual history. Your doc will likely want to know how old you were when you first got your period, how long your cycle is, how many days are on the heavy side, and how your periods affect your quality of life, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .
To get to the bottom of period blood clots, you might also undergo blood tests, a pap smear, an endometrial biopsy , an ultrasound, or other exams depending on your symptoms and results, according to the Mayo Clinic.
If youre dealing with clots from a heavy period, uterine fibroids, PCOS, or a bleeding disorder like VWD, hormonal contraceptives including the Pill, patch, and a hormonal IUD can help, as well as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and naproxen sodium and Tranexamic acid .
Ultimately, treatment is going to vary depending on exactly what kinds of symptoms youre experiencing, and what could truly be behind your period blood clots, so its important to seek out help if youre worried or notice something is off with your body.