EDMONTON -- Doctors in India have identified a rare case of haemolacria, or bloody tears, caused by “vicarious menstruation” – a diagnosis the patient was able to control using oral birth control pills.

According to a case report published in the journal BMJ Case Reports in April, the 25-year-old woman was admitted to hospital after presenting with bloody tears coming from both eyes.

Doctors later discovered she had experienced the rare condition a month before. During the first instance, she also bled from her nose. But because the tears weren’t painful, she didn’t seek medical attention or take any pain medication.

Both times the patient was menstruating when the symptoms occurred.

According to the case report, there were no injuries to either eye, the patient was not experiencing any pain or discomfort, and her visual awareness was rated six out of six in both eyes. Both the gynaecological and Ear, Nose, Throat (ENT) evaluations were normal, as were her blood tests.

The patient was sent home with a prescription for oral contraceptive pills and, after three months, she had not experienced another episode, leading doctors to the formal diagnosis of “ocular vicarious menstruation.”

Because few cases of ocular vicarious menstruation have been reported before, doctors are still unsure what causes the condition.

According to an editorial in the Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, referenced in the case study, bloody tears related to menstruation could be the result of a disruption in sex hormones like estrogen and progesterone. These hormones tend to increase when a person is on their period and may increase blood flow to the eyes, according to the report.

The study author notes that vicarious menstruation has been known to occur from sources other than the eyes, such as the nose, ears, nipples and even skin.