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Bleeding for several days every month is hell — period!
But when blood leaks out of a woman’s tear ducts during menstruation, it’s haemolacria.
After a 25-year-old menstruating woman was rushed to an emergency room with crimson tears oozing from her eyes, medical researchers put their blood, sweat and tears into diagnosing the rare phenomenon.
“Bloody tears or haemolacria is a rare clinical entity,” said the authors of a new study on the condition published in BMJ, a weekly peer-reviewed medical journal.
Haemolacria can be caused by health problems like inflammation, hypertension, anemia or tumors, per the National Center for Biotechnology Information.
But the unnamed patient at the center of this new clinical investigation — a married woman with healthy and uninjured eyes — had experienced bloody tears at the onset of her period twice in as many months, according to the study, out this month.
Regular menstruation can sometimes trigger bleeding outside the uterus, an occurrence known as vicarious menstruation, the doctors confirmed. The rerouted flow of blood will often seep from a woman’s nose, ears, lungs, nipples, skin, intestines and eyes.
Indeed, the woman in question also experienced a nosebleed the first time she cried blood.
Per the findings, certain types of eye tissue can be affected by hormonal changes.
Researchers note that the curve and thickness of a woman’s cornea can vary “during different phases of menstrual period, pregnancy and lactation” — which they say might explain why the woman’s menstruation triggered bleeding from her eyes.
The medical team ultimately determined that their unnamed case study’s dark-red tears were spurred by a highly unusual convergence of vicarious menstruation and haemolacria.
“Extensive physical, ophthalmological and radiological evaluation failed to reveal other potential causes of her complaint,” they said, noting that a full examination of the woman ruled out any other health issues.
Her blood tears weren’t accompanied by headaches, dizziness or other symptoms of a health problem, according to the report. Nor were there any signs of abnormality in her sinuses, tear ducts or in the bloody tears themselves.
“A diagnosis of ocular vicarious menstruation was made,” the scientists recorded.
They treated her with oral contraceptives — which can have a profound effect on a woman’s hormones. After undergoing hormonal therapy for three months, her unconventional period bleeding stopped.
The doctors’ probe into this “rare and unusual clinical case,” is the first of its kind in recent scientific literature, the authors said.
However, they do concede that more research is required in order to understand what exactly caused the woman’s bloody tears, and to determine how such a condition could be effectively managed long-term.
Either way you slice it, it’s all a bloody mess.