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Menstrual Clots, Normal or Serious?

Who Could Get Menstrual Clots?

Menstrual clots, also known as menstrual blood clots or uterine clots, can occur in individuals who menstruate. It is a normal part of the menstrual cycle for many people especially during child bearing age.

Menstrual clots can also be experienced by people with various underlying conditions, such as:

Uterine fibroids:

These are non-cancerous growths in the uterus that can cause heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding, leading to the formation of clots.

Adenomyosis:

This condition occurs when the tissue lining the uterus begins to grow into the muscular wall of the uterus. It can cause heavy bleeding and blood clots during menstruation.

Endometriosis:

This is a condition in which the tissue lining the uterus (endometrium) grows outside the uterus. It can cause heavy and painful periods, including the passage of blood clots.

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS):

PCOS is a hormonal disorder that can disrupt the normal menstrual cycle, leading to irregular or heavy bleeding and the formation of clots.

Hormonal imbalances:

Fluctuations in hormone levels, such as oestrogen and progesterone, can affect the uterine lining’s shedding during menstruation and result in clots.

Miscarriage:

In cases of early pregnancy loss or miscarriage, passing clots or tissue may be experienced along with bleeding.

It’s important to note that while menstrual clots can be a normal part of the menstrual cycle, if you are experiencing unusually large or frequent clots, severe pain, prolonged bleeding, or any other concerning symptoms, it is advisable to consult with your healthcare professional for further evaluation and guidance.

What Are Menstrual Clots?

While every menstruation cycle can vary in length, amount and frequency, finding your first menstrual blood clot can be a scary experience especially if you don’t know what it is.

Menstrual Blood Colt on a Feminine Hygiene Pad.

Menstrual clots are jelly-like or solid masses of blood that can be passed during menstruation. They resemble stewed strawberries or the clumps of fruit you may sometimes find in jam and vary in colour from bright to dark red.

Menstrual clots can vary in size, ranging from small specks to larger masses. They are often dark red or maroon in color and have a gelatinous or jelly-like consistency. Some individuals may experience occasional small clots, while others may pass larger or more frequent clots.

While the presence of menstrual clots is generally considered normal, excessively large clots (bigger than a five pence/quarter), prolonged or heavy bleeding, severe pain, or other concerning symptoms may require medical attention, as they could indicate an underlying condition or hormonal imbalance.

When Are You Likely See Menstrual Clots?

The presence of menstrual clots can vary from person to person, and not everyone will experience them. Here are some instances when you might see menstrual clots:

Heavy flow:

Menstrual clots are more likely to be seen when the menstrual flow is heavy. If you have a heavier menstrual flow, you may notice the presence of clots in your menstrual blood. Bleeding is considered heavy if you change your tampon or menstrual pad every two hours or less, for several hours.

First few days of the bleed:

Menstrual clots are often more common during the first few days of the period when the flow is typically heaviest. As the uterus contracts and expels the menstrual blood, clots can be passed along with the flow.

Large clots:

If you have larger clots, they may be more noticeable when you have your bleed. Large clots are generally more common when the flow is heavy and the blood is expelled quickly, allowing for clot formation.

Irregular periods:

Some individuals with irregular periods may experience a heavier flow when they do have their periods. This increased flow can lead to the formation and passage of menstrual clots.

If the clots are small and only occasional, they’re usually nothing to worry about. Unlike clots formed in your veins, menstrual clots by themselves aren’t dangerous.

It’s important to note that while the presence of menstrual clots is generally considered normal, excessively large clots (larger than a five pence/quarter), prolonged or heavy bleeding, severe pain, or other concerning symptoms should be evaluated by a healthcare professional to rule out any underlying conditions or abnormalities.

Marvellous Tip: You should seek immediate medical help if you’re passing clots and think you could be pregnant. That could be a sign of miscarriage.

Where Do They Come From?

Menstrual clots originate from the lining of the uterus called the endometrium. During each menstrual cycle, the endometrium thickens in preparation for a potential pregnancy. If pregnancy does not occur, the body releases hormones called prostaglandins, which trigger the uterus to contract and shed its lining.

When the uterus contracts to expel the menstrual blood, it also expels the endometrial tissue. The blood vessels in the endometrium rupture, leading to bleeding. The blood released mixes with the shed tissue and other fluids, forming menstrual blood.

Sometimes, the flow of menstrual blood is faster and more forceful, which can hinder proper anticoagulation (prevention of clotting). As a result, the blood within the uterus may coagulate and form clots before being expelled. These clots are composed of coagulated blood, fragments of the endometrial tissue, and other components.

This mixture is then expelled from the uterus through the cervix and out the vagina.

Why Do They Happen?

Menstrual clots, also known as menstrual blood clots or uterine clots, can happen due to several factors related to the menstrual cycle and the physiology of the uterus. Here are some reasons why menstrual clots occur:

Heavy menstrual flow:

Menstrual clots are more likely to occur when the menstrual flow is heavy. Heavy menstrual flow can result from various factors, such as hormonal imbalances, uterine abnormalities, or certain medical conditions like uterine fibroids or adenomyosis. When the flow is heavy, the blood is expelled from the uterus more quickly, which can hinder proper anticoagulation (prevention of clotting) and lead to the formation of clots.

Rapid uterine contractions:

During menstruation, the uterus contracts to shed its lining. If the contractions are forceful and rapid, the blood is expelled more forcefully, increasing the likelihood of clot formation. These rapid contractions may occur due to higher levels of prostaglandins (hormone-like substances) or increased sensitivity of the uterus to prostaglandins.

Prolonged menstrual duration:

Menstrual clots are more likely to form when the menstrual duration is longer than usual. If the bleeding continues for an extended period, the blood within the uterus has more time to coagulate and form clots before being expelled.

Hormonal imbalances:

Fluctuations or imbalances in hormonal levels, particularly estrogen and progesterone, can affect the uterine lining’s shedding during menstruation. Hormonal imbalances can lead to heavier or prolonged bleeding, increasing the chances of clot formation.

Uterine abnormalities or conditions:

Certain uterine abnormalities or conditions can contribute to the formation of menstrual clots. Examples include uterine fibroids (non-cancerous growths in the uterus), adenomyosis (when the tissue lining the uterus grows into the muscular wall), or endometriosis (the presence of endometrial tissue outside the uterus). These conditions can cause heavy bleeding and lead to the passage of clots.

It’s important to note that while menstrual clots can be a normal part of the menstrual cycle for many individuals, excessively large or frequent clots, severe pain, prolonged bleeding, or any other concerning symptoms should be evaluated by a healthcare professional to rule out underlying conditions or abnormalities.

If you regularly pass large clots, there are many effective treatments your doctor may recommend to help control heavy bleeding and reduce the clots.

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