Black Cervical Mucus – Very Rare Event But It Happens!
Cervical mucus, as gross as it can be, is an incredibly important part of vaginal health. Its main function is to serve as a swiffer flushing away bacteria and other nasties that can infect the vagina – the gateway to the sensitive reproductive organs. Cervical mucus can range in color but is most often clear to white. Sometimes, as in the case of infection, the mucus color or texture can change. Green mucus can be found in cases of organism infection, while a thick and chunky white discharge can be associated with yeast infections. While varying hues of viscous vaginal Vaseline can help to signal problems down below, one in particular can be rather alarming, and that is black cervical mucus.
It’s incredibly uncommon for mucus coming from the vagina to be black in color. In many cases, it’s not the mucus itself that is black in color, merely that white or clear mucus has managed to pick up blood from somewhere inside that has dried and has darkened, appearing black. Unlike black mucus in stool, which can signal internal bleeding, the vagina of course is already susceptible to bleeding – in fact it’s on a regular schedule. So, when black discharge is present during menstruation, it can be less of a concern. Although blood in cervical mucus may appear black, it’s actually just a very dull and dirty red in many cases. Closer inspection normally reveals that this black cervical mucus is merely just very dingy dried blood.
But there is a cause of black mucus that can be potentially hazardous, as explained by Texas Tech University Health Science Center in their OB-GYN informational material and that is a foreign body. The most likely culprit? A forgotten about tampon. While this cause of black cervical mucus is very uncommon, it does happen. Most of the time, women remember to change their tampons regularly during menstruation. After all, a new one is needed every few hours, depending on flow. However, the last tampon of the period, the final one worn as the uterine lining’s monthly shed comes to an end, is the one most commonly left entirely ignored. And, while black cervical mucus is hardly ever considered good news, it can provide a signal that something is terribly wrong.
The good news is that tampons can’t be lost. They can’t travel up inside the body, never to be seen again, floating about in the abdomen alongside the kidneys and liver. When inserted, they are in a closed environment. And, while they can move up and back a little further than they are supposed to, they are always retrievable. Alice, writer for “Go Ask Alice” for Columbia University, explains that tampons can sometimes become lodged in the back of the vagina where they can be difficult to locate. Since the string serves as a means with which to remove tampons, when they become lodged as well or moved behind the tampon, it can seem as though the entire thing has disappeared completely. When the tampon remains in its stuck position, black cervical mucus can occur as a result of the foreign body in the vagina.
So, it’s safe to somewhat breathe a sigh of relief that ominous conditions like cancer aren’t the cause of black cervical mucus. However, a less than findable tampon is nothing to play around with. Toxic shock syndrome (TSS) can result from a tampon being left in the vagina for too long, and the bacterial infection that can result can be life threatening. Symptoms of TSS include vomiting and nausea, dizziness and fainting as well as a rash. In order to reduce the risk of TSS, tampons should be changed frequently, and the lowest possible absorbency should be used for flow management. Not only will these things help to reduce the risk of TSS, but habitual changing of tampons as directed as well as using smaller and more manageable tampons is possible can also help reduce the risk of them becoming lodged in places and positions they don’t belong.
Because some cervical symptoms can signal serious illness, it’s important that black cervical mucus be discussed with a health care provider. While in most cases it can be explained with old and dry blood or an unfortunate temporary loss of tampon, it’s an incredibly unusual and rare symptom that warrants an evaluation by a health care provider. And, if any other symptoms are present, or they worsen or change, medical care should be obtained promptly.