What Does Dark Period Blood Mean?

Last modified: August 2, 2019

Richard Honaker M.D.
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When a female’s uterine lining sheds, blood and tissue exits her body through the cervix and vagina. The blood flow may be light, moderate, or heavy and the cycle could range anywhere between 2 to 7 days.

What’s Considered Normal When it Comes to Dark Period Blood?

When it comes to menstruation or period, there is a wide spectrum of what’s considered normal. Different cycle lengths, textures, and colors are considered perfectly normal. According to National Health Service UK, women lose less than 16 teaspoons of blood (80ml) during their period, with the average being around 6 to 8 teaspoons.

The color of this blood can range from pale red to dark brown. The color and consistency of blood can change even within the same menstrual cycle. There may be dark period blood with clots one day and lighter period blood of a thinner consistency on another day.

Though, it is natural to be concerned when you notice something out of the ordinary such as dark period blood on the first day or excessive cramping. If there are no other accompanying symptoms generally a change in color or texture is not something to be alarmed about.

Dark Brown Period Blood at the Beginning of Period

Usually brown blood during period is a sign of old blood. What this means is that the blood has had time to oxidize. Due to slow flow the blood has been around air long enough for the process of oxidation to take place, changing its standard red color to a deeper shade of brown.

You may witness dark period blood on the first day of your cycle. It’s not unusual and it happens because the blood took longer to leave your uterus. Sometimes, you experience a light flow during your period so the blood takes longer to leave the body. Hence, it appears brownish in color.

Another reason for dark brown blood at the beginning of period cycle is that your body sheds the uterine lining at a slower pace. This means that the uterus may not always be able to completely remove all the blood and tissue. So, this ‘leftover’ blood carries over to the next period cycle and you end up with dark period on the first day.

In both these cases, dark period blood is normal and not something to be concerned about. Sometimes, you may also see brown blood towards the end of your period cycle. This is because the discharged blood has stayed in your body for a longer time and turned brown. Again, this is quite common too.

What’s Not Normal?

While it is okay to have dark brown period blood at the beginning or end of the period cycle, sometimes dark brown blood during your period can be an indication of menopause, an effect of birth control methods, or simply hormonal imbalance.

Also, if dark period blood is accompanied by any symptoms such as spotting, strong odor, pain in the vagina or the lower abdomen, night sweats and burning sensation when urinating, it warrants a discussion with your doctor to identify the cause and treat it in a timely manner.

In addition to color, the duration and texture of the periods are other important indicators of your overall health. US Department of Health and Human Services, also highlights the correlation between period problems and other health conditions. Hence, it’s a good idea to consult a physician if you are having longer menstrual cycles, experiencing lighter flow during periods, having period cramps or any similar issues.

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Author: Erum is a public relations professional who specializes in technology comms. She is an avid reader, a travel enthusiast, and a self-proclaimed story-teller. Before joining the content team at Your Doctors Online, Erum was the PR manager at Hill & Knowlton Strategies and was handling communications and content strategy for a diverse portfolio of brands. She is also a new mom who is finding her way around motherhood.

Disclaimer: This article provides general information and is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease or medical condition. If you require specific advice, please consult one of our medical professionals through the app. However, in case of an emergency, please call 911.

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