What Are the Common Causes of Dark Vaginal Discharge?

Dark vaginal discharge may be common at the end of a woman's menstrual cycle.
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  • Written By: C.B. Fox
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 30 August 2014
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The most common cause of dark vaginal discharge is the presence of blood in the discharge. In most cases, this is normal and not a cause for alarm. Women frequently have dark vaginal discharge at the end of their menstrual periods and sometimes halfway between periods, during ovulation. It is also possible for women to bleed during pregnancy, though this may be an indication that there is a problem with the pregnancy, and the woman should be examined by a doctor. In some cases, severe infections can cause bleeding from the various organs of the reproductive system, though modern medicine is usually able to catch and cure these conditions before they become this severe.

It is very common for a woman to have vaginal discharge that is darker at the end of each menstrual cycle. This discharge is made up of the lining of the uterus, which is shed once a month if a woman does not become pregnant. It is normal for the color and consistency of menstrual fluids to change over the course of each period. The fluid may become darker towards the end of the period because the blood in it is older. Many women have vaginal discharge that varies from a deep rust-colored red to brown or even black.

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Ovulation can be another cause of dark discharge. Some women experience some light spotting as the egg is released into the fallopian tube. The color of this spotting can range from red to dark brown or black, depending on how long it takes to travel through the uterus and vagina. As long as the bleeding is light, this is considered a normal condition.

Heavy bleeding that occurs between periods or any bleeding that occurs while a woman is pregnant should be evaluated by a doctor. The color of the blood that is expelled at these times can be dark or red and can be an indication that there is a problem. Women with dark vaginal discharge during pregnancy should be examined to find out whether the cervix is dilated, which can indicate a miscarriage. Those with frequent bleeding between periods should be examined to determine whether a serious medical condition is the cause.

Occasionally, after a particularly severe infection, vaginal discharge will contain blood. This can cause dark discharge, though it is infrequent. In most cases, vaginal infections are diagnosed and treated before the infection has progressed to the point where it could cause bleeding.

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anon344253
Post 9

I am 40 years old and have had three to four day periods for the last 18 years. I have had issues in the past, but nothing too serious. I just recently had a period that lasted eight days, stopped for two days and have been spotting, very dark in color every day for the past two weeks. I am also bloated in the abdomen and experiencing lower back pain. Is this something that I should see a doctor for right away?

anon341876
Post 8

I am a 13 year old girl and I haven't had my period yet, although I'm experiencing brown to red liquid. Is this my period or something else?

anon341006
Post 7

Yesterday, I came home after I ate. I went to the bathroom to go pee and I had dark brown spotting on my undies and I had my period the middle of last month. You'd think I have it on the same date this month. I'm cramping a tiny bit and have headaches, so I've been wearing a pad for a couple of days and nothing on the pad but am still cramping a little here and there. I don't know what it might be.

amypollick
Post 6

@anon328357: If your doctor did any bloodwork, that would have shown the imbalance, but otherwise, this kind of vaginal discharge is generally caused by hormones that are not properly balanced.

I don't know what therapy she prescribed for you, or how long it's been since you finished it, but sometimes a hormonal imbalance takes time to resolve.

If you're still having the discharge in another week, go back and ask about the possibility of taking birth control pills. These can regulate your hormones on a long-term basis. They're not just for preventing pregnancy.

anon328357
Post 5

I am a 31 year old virgin girl. For about 20 days I have had brownish red to black discharge, which is continuous throughout the day. I am not able to tell if blood is present in that. When I showed it to a gynecologist, she concluded that it is a hormonal imbalance. Although I followed her protocol, I am still having the discharge. I didn't understand why she concluded it was a hormonal imbalance. I am also fearful about whether it may be a tumor. What should I do? How do I overcome my fear?

anon301289
Post 4

I had unprotected sex on the 14th day with my partner and later had an i-pill. Later I thought I had my periods after eight days, but it was just black blood and in a smaller quantity. Just for two days now it has been more than one month when I haven't got my periods. Also today it's the same black fluid coming out that I saw just once on the first day. Please help. Am I pregnant?

feasting
Post 3

I have had white discharge before, but I have never had dark discharge. It sounds scary. I know that there is no blood in the white discharge, and I've been told that it is a sign of ovulation.

Sometimes it also happens in the days leading up to my period. I will be sitting down and suddenly feel something warm and wet coming out of me. That makes me think that it is time for my period, but when I go to the bathroom to check, all I see is white goo.

I believe that if I ever saw black discharge or even dark brown discharge, I would get to the doctor as soon as possible. Bleeding vaginally at strange times is nothing to ignore.

healthy4life
Post 2

@kylee07drg – It sounds to me like you may have been ovulating. It happens at different points throughout the month for different women, and since you were not having your period at the time and not due for one yet, I would imagine that is what it was.

I have experienced brown vaginal discharge before at a strange time of the month. The first couple of times it happened, I put in a tampon because I feared that there might be more of it. After I started seeing it just about every month for a day, I started using pantyliners instead, because there were only a few drops of it.

kylee07drg
Post 1

I usually notice a brown discharge on the last day or two of my period. I don't deem my period technically over until the discharge has been reduced to just a few brown drops.

I did have a brown discharge once at a random time. It was two weeks from the time I should be expecting my period, so it concerned me a little. However, I had no other symptoms, and there was very little discharge present, so I didn't go to my doctor.

Has anyone else had this happen? What could it be?

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