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Retrograde Menstruation: Navigating Backwards

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In a regular menstrual period, your uterine lining sheds and flows downward and out of your vagina.  

But in Retrograde menstruation, the menstrual blood flows backward into the fallopian tubes and pelvis.

Although it’s a normal part of menstruation and doesn’t typically cause problems, knowing about its symptoms and causes can help in effective management.

Below, we have discussed some signs, causes, and treatments of Retrograde periods.

Retrograde Menstruation

Any person who menstruates can experience Retrograde periods, where the menstrual blood flows backward into the pelvic cavity

This blood has endometrial cells from the inner lining of the uterus. These cells may stick to the pelvic walls and surfaces of pelvic organs leading to Endometriosis.

Sampson’s theory of Retrograde menstruation suggested that there might be a possible relationship between this phenomenon and Endometriosis.

Healthcare providers also believe that people with Retrograde menses may risk developing Endometriosis. 

In Endometriosis, the uterine tissue starts growing outside of the uterus.  

When you have Retrograde menses, cells from your endometrium (the lining of your uterus) may grow on your abdominal or pelvic organs.

This growth of cells on the pelvic or abdominal organs leads to pain during menstruation. 

To get a better understanding of Endometriosis fleshy tissue during period, read Understanding Endometriosis Fleshy Tissue During Period.

Usually, there are medications available for pain, but read ahead to understand the causes and diagnosis of Retrograde menstruation.

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  • Retrograde Menstruation Symptoms

    Woman suffering from painSource: Africa_images
    Woman suffering from pain

    As such, there are no major signs that women with Retrograde menstruation experience. 

    The primary symptom includes pain during menstruation (Dysmenorrhea).

    However, it is not certain because menstrual pain is also related to multiple other conditions affecting reproductive health. Most of the time, this condition goes undiagnosed as women associate this pain with normal period cramps.

    Some may also report having a lighter period since the blood flows back into their abdomen.

    You should see a doctor if you are experiencing severe or unexpected period discomfort or changes.

    Dr. John Sampson first described the relationship between Retrograde menstruation and Endometriosis in the 1920s.

    Retrograde Menstruation Causes

    The majority of studies on Retrograde periods examine it in relation to Endometriosis. The exact causes of Retrograde menses still need to be well-studied.

    However, according to some studies, a narrower cervical opening may raise the risk of Retrograde blood flow.

    Since Retrograde bleeding is highly common among women, it can probably be considered a normal aspect of the menstrual process.

    Do you know Endometriosis and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) have some similar symptoms? 

    It is important to learn the difference between these two conditions for proper management. To learn about these conditions, read PCOS Vs Endometriosis: A Comprehensive Comparative Analysis.

    If you experience extreme or unusual period pain or changes in your period, consult your healthcare provider.

    Retrograde Menstruation Diagnosis and Treatment

    Retrograde period is generally not diagnosed as a condition on its own. 

    It may be diagnosed during a pelvic pain or Endometriosis examination.

    Laparoscopic examination of the pelvis during menstruation may reveal Retrograde bleeding.

    Retrograde menstruation is not a medical concern on its own, so there is no specific treatment for it unless it is causing other symptoms or conditions.

    If this condition is leading to menstrual bleeding, it may be reduced by using hormone IUDs or prescription hormones to limit blood flow into the abdomen.

    A Hysterectomy is also an option to treat Retrograde periods but would only be used if medically necessary.

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    Retrograde menstruation means that when you get your period, some blood and tissue flow backward into your pelvis rather than out of your vagina.

    In general, there are no specified treatments for Retrograde menstrual bleeding.

    In severe cases, hormonal medicines are prescribed to reduce menstrual bleeding and restrict the backflow of blood.

    If it is associated with other problems, such as Endometriosis, your healthcare provider will treat them directly.

    Retrograde bleeding is difficult to spot, so it is important to look for indications for timely diagnosis and treatment.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Is there a connection between Retrograde menstruation and fertility?

    No, there is no direct connection between Retrograde menses and fertility. However, since Endometriosis is an associated risk, it may lead to fertility problems.

    How painful is Retrograde menstruation?

    Retrograde bleeding doesn’t typically have a lot of symptoms. Some women experience pain but may mistake it for common menstrual cramps. 

    Can I push my period out faster? 

    Yes, there are a few ways in which you can push out your period faster. These include having an orgasm, working out, and consuming herbs. However, none of these methods has medical backing, so it’s recommended that you consult with your doctor before attempting it.

    Can period blood get blocked?

    Yes, in some situations, the menstrual tissue can block the cervix and prevent or limit the flow of blood and tissue. This blockage could make a person’s period stop for a while. The period will go back to normal once the blockage is gone.

    Is Endometriosis is curable?

    Currently, there is no known cure available for Endometriosis, and the treatment is usually to control the symptoms. Early and effective Endometriosis diagnosis and treatment is important but limited.

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    Photo of author Janet Fudge
    Janet Fudge is a highly skilled and experienced pharmacologist who serves as a contributing writer for With a strong academic background from a premier US University and a passion for helping others, Janet has become a trusted voice in the pharmaceutical world. After completing her Doctor of Pharmacy degree, Janet embarked on a successful career in the pharmaceutical industry, working with various clients, including hospitals, retail pharmacies, and drug manufacturers. Her in-depth knowledge of pharmacology and dedication to patient-centered care has led her to excel in her field. As a writer for, Janet uses her wealth of expertise to provide readers with accurate, reliable, and up-to-date information on various topics related to medicine and healthcare. Her engaging writing style and ability to break down complex topics into easily digestible content make her a valuable resource for healthcare professionals and the general public.
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