Black menses : is it serious?

But what is this black clotted period blood at the bottom of my period panties ? You have already asked yourself the question and you may even have been alarmed. However, in general, what are called black menses or brown discharge do not present a danger as long as they are not accompanied by other symptoms , such as pelvic pain or a foul odor. Let's see what the dark color of your menstruation signals.

Black menses: why do I have black period blood?

The black menses, also called brown discharge, are in most cases a mixture:

  • of blood
  • clots
  • and vaginal secretions.

Their color ranging from dark burgundy to black through brown is explained by the oxidation of blood.

Put simply, when blood comes into contact with air, it oxidizes and darkens. This phenomenon occurs when menstrual blood from the uterus stagnates in the vagina before flowing out.

The result at the bottom of the panties? Sticky, dark discharge that smells like blood, but is not unpleasant.

Black menses : where does it come from?

Black menses can occur in different situations. The most common are:

  • the first and last days of menstruation, especially when blood loss is scanty and tends to linger in the vagina;
  • the period of ovulation during which the body of many women is subject to significant hormonal fluctuation (luteinizing hormone, progesterone, estrogen, etc.). This is called ovulation spotting ;
  • suitable hormonal contraception such as an incorrectly dosed pill causing light bleeding during the menstrual cycle;
  • inflammation of the cervix;
  • the stress.


When you're not used to it, black menses can be worrying. But rest assured, in most cases they do not present any danger. They are frequent and should not alarm you.


Pregnancy, menopause and black menses : should we worry?

At the beginning of pregnancy, it is not uncommon to notice light bleeding, which is called anniversary periods . These brown losses are once again due to a significant hormonal fluctuation. Usually not serious, these vaginal secretions must be monitored in order to quickly alert the doctor or midwife if they change in appearance or if they become abundant.

Postpartum menstrual panties

Black menses can also occur during menopause. The menstrual cycle becomes irregular (premenopause) and gradually stops (perimenopause). The levels of progesterone play yo-yo causing the passage of the menses to the flow sometimes abundant, sometimes weak.

In the postmenopause phase (menopause confirmed after one year without ovulation and without menstruation), the body adapts to its new hormonal balance. The menstrual cycle is interrupted and with it the black periods. If brown discharge persists, these may be symptoms that require a visit to the doctor. Either way, using postpartum menstrual panties is the way to go.

We also note the existence of sheathing panties and even post c-section panties .

Black menses : when should you talk to the doctor?

Now that the introductions are done, you know who you're dealing with. In summary, black periods have no alarming character as long as they are not associated with other symptoms such as fever, foul odor, pain.

Without giving in to panic, it is advisable in case of doubt to seek the advice of a doctor, a gynecologist or a midwife if:

  • black menses are painful (pelvic pain, burning, itching, etc.), a potential sign of complications during pregnancy (miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy), benign pathology of the uterus (polyp or fibroid type) or cervix uterus (inflammation or infection);
  • black menses are smelly, revealing an infection (mycosis, bacterial vaginosis, sexually transmitted disease...).


Black periods: what treatments?

To make his diagnosis, the doctor will probably prescribe a sample of vaginal secretions supplemented by a smear or even an ultrasound examination, if necessary. The treatment of black menses will be different depending on the causes of this disorder. In some cases, it will be a question of adjusting your hormonal contraception, or even switching from the pill to the IUD or the contraceptive implant. In other cases, it may be a question of prescribing an antibiotic treatment (antibiotic targeted to prevent the appearance of a mycosis) to fight against a vaginosis-type infection or an antifungal treatment (local cream and vaginal capsule ) to manage a mycosis.

For your personal hygiene, you can opt for a wipe without perfume or chemical substances or a soap with a neutral pH or even an alkaline soap in the event of mycosis (without exceeding a week to avoid the risk of vaginosis).

Whatever your choice, the principle to keep in mind is the following: personal hygiene, yes, but limited to the vulva, that is to say the external part of the vagina. Douching: no! They destroy the vaginal flora and promote the proliferation of bad bacteria causing infections and fungal infections.

Black, pink, orange, red, gray: what to remember when it comes to period color

To find your way between the different colors of menses, here is some useful information. We've put them together in a checklist and also let you know when it might be important to see a doctor.

Bright-red bleeding combined with a steady flow indicates that your cycle is working properly.

Painful red periods associated with profuse discharge and recurring in cycles may be suggestive of endometriosis. This disease is caused by the migration of fragments of the endometrium (inner lining of the uterus) outside the uterus. At the time of menstruation, the fragments of endometrium which have migrated most of the time in the stomach or the lower abdomen begin to bleed and can cause lesions on the colonized organs. Many women suffer from it, but are treated only belatedly. If in doubt, do not hesitate to seek advice from the doctor.

When the pale red colored rulers tend to pink, there are several possible explanations. It could be :

  • the beginning of the cycle;
  • the effects of hormonal contraception (pill, implant or IUD);
  • of menses and mixed white losses.

Orange is a period color that can signal a vaginal infection. Once again, we don't ask too many questions and we go to the doctor, especially in case of fever and foul odor.

When the period blood turn gray with discharge of grayish period blood clots and a fishy smell, we are probably in the presence of bacterial vaginosis. It's not really pleasant, but it's not serious either. This means that the vaginal flora is out of balance. Lactobacilli are clearly reduced and leave the field open to harmful bacteria. To get rid of bacterial vaginosis, it is enough to restore the bacterial balance of the vagina. The best person to help you is still the doctor or the gynecologist.

As for brown or black flows, it can be, as we have seen above, several phenomena such as:

  • the start or end of periods;
  • ovulation spotting (no, it's not a pimple here, but light discharge of blood during ovulation);
  • an implantation spotting (in short: the sperm fertilizes the oocyte giving rise to an embryo which implants itself in the uterine lining. implantation bleeding or implantation spotting);
  • anniversary menses ;
  • menopause…

As always, if in doubt, especially if you have a fever or if your black menses or brown discharge smell bad, don't settle for a few opinions on a forum: contact your doctor. Only he can make a reliable diagnosis.


Black menses : how to choose your sanitary protection to stay comfortable?

If most of the time, black menses are not a cause for concern, they remain a daily problem in terms of comfort. In order to stay dry, the best is still an external hygienic protection (the use of tampons is strongly discouraged during the black periods, because the bleeding is generally not abundant enough). To live your period (even black) while feeling good in your body, nothing like comfortable, discreet and aesthetic menstrual panties. It can be worn for 12 hours non-stop without leaking and can be machine washed!

By Valerie.