Everyone with a vagina has some kind of discharge. It’s a part of the body’s way of keeping it clean and healthy! However, changes in the color of your discharge can be a sign of something wrong. If you notice black discharge, it’s understandable to be alarmed. Let’s run through some of the possible causes for black vaginal discharge and what to do about it.
Is my vaginal discharge normal?
Your discharge is a liquid made up of secretions from the cervix and vagina. It plays two important roles for your body:
- It helps clear out dead cells and bacteria, keeping the vagina clean. This gives a level of protection against germs and infection.
- It allows sperm cells to make their way through the cervix and onto the egg for fertilization.
In order to fulfill both of these roles, the texture of vaginal discharge changes according to different phases of the menstrual cycle. Most of the time, your discharge is relatively thick and sticky to stop germs from getting through.
However, during the “fertile window” of your cycle right before and after ovulation, it becomes clear and slippery. This helps sperm cells reach the egg for fertilization.
Discharge can give you clues about your overall health. Normal discharge is transparent or whitish in color, and although it has its own scent, it doesn’t smell foul. If you come down with an infection or condition that affects your reproductive organs, your first clue could be a change in the color, odor, or texture of your discharge.
Black vaginal discharge before period: Normal or no?
In the light flow just before and after a period, you might see brown or black spotting in your discharge. Knowing that unusual colors in discharge can be a bad sign, black discharge might set off some alarm bells.
Don’t be too worried about this. It’s most likely your uterus is clearing out some old blood and uterine lining. This appears darker in color than fresh blood. It’s normal to have dark discharge for a few days after a period, but see a doctor if you’re concerned.
What else does black vaginal discharge mean?
If black discharge is just old menstrual blood, there’s no cause for alarm, and it should clear up quickly. However, if it continues for more than a few days on either side of your period, it could be a sign of something more serious.
A foreign body stuck in the vagina – say, a lost or forgotten tampon – can also cause a black, stinky discharge. If you suspect this might be the cause, don’t be embarrassed! It’s happened to lots of people. See a doctor as soon as possible to get it removed and make sure you’re safe from dangerous infections.
Abnormal uterine bleeding
Black discharge around your period is one thing, but if it happens at seemingly random points of your cycle that’s another matter. Irregular uterine bleeding like can be a sign of some significant issues with reproductive health, ranging from hormone imbalances like PCOS, or an ectopic pregnancy. Don’t ignore it, especially if you have other symptoms like abdominal pain or dizziness. See a doctor for abnormal uterine bleeding.
When a fertilized egg implants in the uterine lining at the beginning of a pregnancy, it can sometimes cause a little bleeding. This blood sometimes appears as brown or black in your discharge, depending on how long it took to exit through the vagina. If you’ve been trying to conceive, or have had unprotected sexual intercourse, consider a pregnancy test if your period doesn’t arrive on time.
What can I do about black vaginal discharge?
Black discharge can be a sign of bleeding. If it’s not associated with your menstrual cycle, it could be a distress signal from somewhere further up in the reproductive system. If you notice any big changes in the color, texture, or smell of your vaginal discharge, it’s a good idea to see a doctor or gynecologist as soon as possible. They’ll be able to tell you if it’s normal, and treat the root causes if it isn’t.
However, it’s never a good idea to douche, even if your discharge is bothering you. Douching just covers up the problem, and could put you at risk of an infection.
If black vaginal discharge doesn’t seem right, see a doctor
Getting to know the natural rhythms of your discharge over the course of your menstrual cycle is a great step to take for your reproductive health. It might seem a little embarrassing at first, but once you know what’s normal for you, it will be easier to recognize if something seems off. If you’re concerned about black discharge, don’t suffer it alone: talk to a gynecologist to see if there’s a problem.