But the color of your menstrual blood could also give you an important clue about your health.
Changes to your typical color chart (plus changes to the frequency, length, and flow of your periods) can sometimes be a sign of an underlying problem.
So it’s worth checking in with your doctor if you’re concerned.
Here, we’re focusing on one color from the period spectrum: What does it mean when your period blood is black?
In this article: 📝
- Why is my period blood black?
- What does black period blood mean?
- Does brown period blood mean pregnancy?
- When to see your doctor about black period blood
Why is my period blood black?
First, a quick recap on periods (AKA menstruation). Every 21 to 35 days (give or take) during your reproductive years, your body sheds blood and tissue from the lining of your uterus, and it exits via your vagina.
You’ll typically find yourself bleeding for between two and eight days, but every woman is different.
The color of your period blood can vary quite a bit—even in the space of one period. And, yep, even black period blood can be totally “normal” and healthy.
So what causes it?
Basically, black period blood is old blood.
That is, blood that has taken a while to leave your body and has oxidized (reacted with oxygen) on the way.
It would have started off as bright red and then changed to dark red, then brown, then black. (Well, actually, black period blood is a very, very dark brown—it just looks black to us.)
What does black period blood mean?
Black period blood might be part of your body’s usual routine, and nothing to worry about.
But it can sometimes be a sign that something else is going on. Let’s look at some possible black period blood meanings:
The beginning/end of your period
That’s because your flow tends to be the slowest at these times, so the blood takes a while to leave your body and oxidizes on the way.
A blockage in your vagina
If you have black discharge instead of period blood, that could be a sign that you have an object lodged in your vagina, causing a blockage.
It might be a forgotten tampon, sex toy, or birth control device (such as a cap or diaphragm).
In this case, it’s unlikely that black blood will be your only symptom. You might also experience bad-smelling discharge, difficulty peeing, fever, or itching in or around your vagina.
An underlying health condition
Some medical conditions, like endometriosis, uterine fibroids, an STI, or, in rare cases, cervical cancer, can cause black period blood.
Again, you’ll be likely to experience other symptoms if you have one of these conditions, not just black period blood.
If you’re in the first three months of pregnancy, it’s possible that dark red spotting (which might look a bit like black period blood) could be a sign of pregnancy loss.
Does brown period blood mean pregnancy?
That’s spotting caused by an embryo bedding down in the lining of your uterus—it’s an early sign of pregnancy.
It can be pinkish or brown in color, but it’s not usually as dark as black period blood.
When to see your doctor about black period blood
So, as we saw earlier, black period blood at the beginning or end of your period is generally not a problem.
It probably just means that your flow is on the go-slow.
But here’s when it’s best to talk to your doctor:
- You’re seeing black blood outside of your usual period window.
- You’ve got other symptoms, too, such as bad-smelling discharge, vaginal itching, abdominal pain, or fever.
- You’re bleeding during pregnancy.
- You’re experiencing postmenopausal bleeding.
If you want to compare notes with other women on what they experience during their cycles, head over to the Peanut community!
💡 You might also like:
Prostaglandins and Period Pain: What You Need to Know
The Lowdown on Period Underwear
Can You Get Pregnant Right Before Your Period?
Can You Get Pregnant Right After Your Period?
Can You Have Two Periods in One Month?
How Late Can a Period Be?
How to Reduce Period Pain
Swollen Vagina? Causes and Treatments
Boobs Sore After Period? What to Know
Having Sex on Your Period: What to Know
Are There Drinks That Help With Period Cramps?
Do You Burn More Calories on Your Period? The Facts
8 Signs Your Period is Coming Tomorrow
Why Am I So Hungry On My Period?
The 411 on Period Poop
Why Do I Crave Chocolate On My Period?
Blood Clots During Your Period: Yes, It’s Normal
How Long Do Periods Last? When Do Periods End?
Why Did My Period Come Early? 10 Reasons