Why Do I See Blood Clots During My Period?
Getting or being on your period is normal. Since our bodies are all unique, it’s understandable when your period varies in frequency and amount from one person to the other. However, let's go back to the time you first noticed a clump of blood in your flow, were you scared? You must have thought that something was wrong with you or that your period was strange? The truth is most blood clots during a period are normal, but if you experience large clots and notice changes in your period, it may be time to talk to a doctor.
How can you tell if the clot is too large and requires medical attention? Let’s discuss all you need to know. First…
What does it mean to have blood clots on my period?
As surprising as it may sound, blood clots are a natural part of the body’s defence mechanism. The thick, and jelly-like texture of a menstrual clot help prevent too much blood from escaping. The hormones in your body cause the lining of your uterus to begin shedding during menstruation. In that process, small blood vessels bleed and to prevent your body from losing too much blood, plasma and platelets work together to form blood clots.
It’s possible to experience a heavy flow containing menstrual clots one month, and a lighter flow with no clots the next month. Simply put, to prevent too much blood from being lost your body forms blood clots using a combination of the liquid part of blood and tiny blood cells that bind together to form clots.
How can I differentiate normal vs abnormal clots?
Yes, menstrual clots are normal but a number of things could make them a cause for concern. A rule of thumb is if the clots are small (no larger than a coin) and appear occasional, they’re usually nothing to worry about. While regularly passing large clots during your period could signal a medical condition that needs investigation.
Here’s how to differentiate them:
Are smaller than a coin
Occur occasionally, usually toward the beginning of your menstrual cycle
Appear bright or dark red in colour
Are larger than a coin
Possible health conditions causing clots
Some health conditions exist that could cause you to experience abnormally large blood clots frequently. They include:
Hormonal Imbalances - Hypothyroidism, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), perimenopause, and menopause can cause irregular shedding of the uterine lining, resulting in clotting and heavy bleeding.
Miscarriage - Clotting and bleeding are common symptoms of pregnancy loss.
Uterine Fibroids - Noncancerous growths in your uterus are common and can cause heavy bleeding.
Endometriosis - It causes the endometrial tissue in your uterine lining to grow outside your uterus, usually onto your fallopian tubes and ovaries.
Adenomyosis - Causes the endometrial tissue in your uterine lining to grow into your uterine wall, often making your uterus larger.
Cesarian scar - This could lead to abnormal bleeding associated with the scar from their cesarian section.
Cancer in the uterus/cervix - Potential but less likely source of blood clots.
When should I see a doctor?
Based on what we mentioned earlier on normal blood clots, see your doctor if you have heavy menstrual bleeding or clots larger than a coin. Menstrual bleeding is considered heavy if you change your tampon or menstrual pad every two hours or less, for several hours. Another reason to see your doctor is if you are pregnant and passing clots, this could be a sign of a miscarriage.
What do diagnosis and treatment entail?
Expect your doctor to do a pelvic exam. They may also want to do a blood test, a pap test or an ultrasound during your visit. You should also be prepared with the following information:
How long your period usually lasts and how heavy it is.
If you’ve been bleeding between periods.
If you’ve been experiencing pain.
If there’s a chance you might be pregnant.
A list of medications you are currently on.
A list of other medical conditions.
If you have been tracking your period with the Grace app. Most of this information should be just a few clicks away. For treatment, based on the results, symptoms and clots your doctor may either recommend hormonal contraceptives, other medications or surgery.
They may also suggest some quick remedies you could try at home such as:
A diet that includes iron-rich foods
Avoiding aspirin, which may make bleeding worse
Generally, blood clots are not something to worry about. Especially if they are not bigger than a coin and occur occasionally. However, anyone who notices a pattern of heavy flow or heavy clotting alongside other symptoms should see a doctor.
Stay informed, stay in control
Do you experience blood clots during your period?