Periods can be a tricky thing to navigate – from bloating and mood swings to cramps and heavy flows, there’s a lot to deal with every month.
One common concern that many women face is blood clots during menstruation. What causes these clots, and are they harmful?
In this blog, we’ll delve into menstrual health and explore the reasons behind blood clots during periods.
What are menstrual blood clots?
Before we dive into the causes of blood clots, it’s essential to understand what they are. Menstrual clots are thick, jelly-like lumps that, in menstrual blood flow, are usually dark red or brown.
They can have clots in a more extensive range in size, from small ones that are barely noticeable to larger ones that can cause discomfort during periods. Clots result from the body’s natural process of shedding the uterine lining during menstruation.
Hormonal imbalances are the most common cause of blood clots during periods. These imbalances increase menstrual bleeding and can result from various factors, including stress, sudden weight loss/gain, illness, or even the use of birth control pills.
When hormones such as estrogen and progesterone fluctuate, they can affect blood cells and the thickness of the uterine lining, leading to the formation of clots during periods.
Fibroids are benign growths that can develop in the uterus. They are relatively common, with around 20-80% of women experiencing them at some point.
Fibroids can cause heavy periods, which, in turn, can increase the likelihood of blood clots during menstruation. If you notice that your period has large blood clots that are accompanied by intense cramping or severe pain, it’s essential to consult with a gynecologist.
Endometriosis is a medical condition in which the tissue that lines the lining of the uterus grows outside the uterus, causing pain and discomfort.
Along with an irregular menstrual cycle, women with endometriosis may also experience heavy bleeding and blood clots during periods. If you suspect that you may have endometriosis, don’t hesitate to speak to your healthcare provider.
Other underlying medical conditions
If you’re experiencing significant or persistent blood clots during periods, it’s crucial to rule out any underlying medical conditions that may be causing them. Medical issues, such as von Willebrand disease, may affect the body’s ability to make blood clotting itself usually, increasing the likelihood of period clots. In such cases, seeking medical attention is the best course of action.
What Causes Normal Period Blood Clots?
Period blood clots can be a regular part of menstruation, but they can also indicate potential health concerns. They are typically caused by the natural clotting of blood in the uterus before it exits the cervix.
However, several underlying conditions could also cause them:
- Thyroid Conditions: Issues with your thyroid can disrupt your hormonal balance and menstrual cycle, leading to blood clots.
- Polyps and Fibroids: These non-cancerous growths in your uterus can lead to heavier periods and larger blood clots.
- Hormonal Imbalance: Hormones play a crucial role in regulating your period. An imbalance could lead to irregularities, including clots.
- Bleeding Disorders: If you have a disorder that affects your body’s ability to clot blood, it could result in blood clots during your period.
- Certain Medications and Birth Control: Some drugs, including birth control pills, can affect your menstrual cycle and potentially cause clots.
- Cancer: In rare cases, uterine or cervical cancer can cause abnormal bleeding and clots.
- Miscarriage: A miscarriage can cause heavy bleeding and large clots.
Remember, while some period blood clots are expected, especially during heavy, heavy menstrual flow, unusually large or frequent clots could be a sign of an underlying issue. If you’re concerned about your period or notice significant changes, it’s always best to consult with a healthcare professional.
Top things to know about period blood clots
Period blood clots are a common occurrence during menstruation, especially during heavy blood flow for days. They arise from the natural clotting of blood in the uterus before it exits the cervix.
However, if you notice unusually large or frequent clots, it could indicate an underlying health issue such as thyroid conditions, hormonal imbalance, polyps, fibroids, bleeding disorders, certain medications, birth control, and, in rare cases, cancer or miscarriage.
It’s always best to consult with a healthcare professional if you have any concerns about your period.
What Does a Normal Period Blood Clot Look Like?
- Period blood clots often appear as chunks or clumps of blood with a jelly-like consistency.
- They can resemble pieces of mashed-up red fruit.
- The color of these clots can range from bright red to burgundy.
- They can be thick and lumpy or stringy, depending on how the blood builds up in the uterus before exiting the cervix.
- At the beginning and the end of your cycle, they may appear bright red.
- The clot size can vary, but it usually indicates a heavy flow.
- The color of a menstrual clot can range from bright red to deeper red. The size of the clot is more significant than the color.
- Period blood clots may appear red, pink, brown, or even rust-colored.
Diagnosing the Cause of Abnormal Period Blood Clots
Understanding the cause of abnormal period blood clots can be a complex process involving various diagnostic steps. Here are key points to consider:
- Hormone Imbalances: Conditions like Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) can disrupt hormonal balance, leading to abnormal clotting and heavy bleeding during menstruation.
- Structural Abnormalities: Problems with the structure of your uterus, such as polyps or fibroids, can cause heavy bleeding and large clots.
- Precancer and Cancer: In some cases, uterine or cervical cancer might be the underlying reason for abnormal menstrual clots.
- Endometriosis: This condition is often associated with heavy periods, prolonged menstrual flow, and large clots.
- Medications: Certain medicines that prevent blood clots may also cause heavy menstrual bleeding.
To diagnose these conditions, healthcare professionals may ask about signs and symptoms, order blood or imaging tests, and perform a physical examination.
How to Respond to Clots During Pregnancy
- Don’t Panic: Remain calm and composed. It’s a concerning situation, but remember, you’re not alone.
- Contact Healthcare Provider: Reach out to your healthcare provider immediately. They can guide you based on your unique situation.
- Note Symptoms: Pay attention to any other symptoms like pain or discomfort. Share these details with your healthcare provider.
- Listen to Others: Hearing testimonials from other women can provide comfort, but remember, every pregnancy is unique.
- Action: Follow the advice of your healthcare provider promptly. They’re your best support in this journey.
Bleeding disorders are a group of medical conditions that affect blood vessels and the body’s ability to clot blood properly. Here are some key points:
- Symptoms: These disorders often result in extended bleeding after injury, surgery, or even minor bumps. Symptoms can also include significant bruising.
- Types of Disorders: Some common bleeding disorders include Hemophilia and von Willebrand disease (VWD). Hemophilia is usually inherited, while VWD affects both men and women and results from a deficiency or defect in the body’s ability to produce a specific clotting factor.
- Causes: Bleeding disorders can be hereditary due to the absence or deficiency of specific clotting proteins, or they can occur when clotting factors are absent. These proteins work with platelets to clot blood.
- Treatment: Treatment options vary based on the specific disorder but can include medications to encourage clotting and managing symptoms.
What does an unhealthy period clot look like?
Unhealthy period clots often appear more significant than the size of a quarter and occur regularly. They can vary in color, from bright red to a darker, deeper red, and even black. These could be signs of underlying conditions like fibroids, endometriosis, or hormone imbalances such as PCOS.
How to get rid of Menstrual Clots
Menstrual clots can be managed and potentially reduced through various methods:
- Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs): Over-the-counter NSAIDs such as ibuprofen can help reduce the heaviness of your flow and alleviate pain.
- Vitamin C: Increasing your Vitamin C intake, either through diet or supplements, may help decrease bleeding.
- Cold Compress: Applying a cold pack to your lower abdomen for 1-2 minutes at a time may provide relief.
- Red Raspberry Leaf Tea, Massage, Vitamins, and Cayenne Pepper: These remedies have been suggested to help manage menstrual clots naturally.
- Medical Procedures: If heavy menstrual bleeding persists, medical procedures like endometrial ablation may be recommended by your healthcare provider.
Menstruation is a natural phenomenon, but we must pay attention to changes in our menstrual health.
Blood clots can be a symptom of various underlying medical conditions, so it’s crucial to consult with a healthcare provider if you’re experiencing significant or persistent blood clots during periods.
Remember, menstrual health is an essential aspect of overall health, so don’t hesitate to seek help if you need it.