Important Facts About Menstrual Clotting

A woman consulting her OB/GYN about menstrual clotting

Menstrual clotting can be a normal condition for women, however, clots can signify more serious problems.

What Are Clots?

Clots in the uterus typically form when blood pools. One of the significant signs of a menstrual clot is the darkness of the blood, while blood that exits the body in a faster manner is usually a brighter red. Clots occur because the body is trying to control its own bleeding. Blot clots on the skin become scabs, but blood clots that form within the uterus are generally passed out of the body. While the appearance of clots can certainly be alarming, they are sometimes quite normal.

Causes of Menstrual Clotting

In order to determine whether the presence of menstrual clotting is a serious problem, the reasons or causes of the clots must be determined. A woman who is experiencing clotting problems is often evaluated to determine her blood count level. A drop in blood count could signify the presence of anemia, but in many cases, women continue to have a normal blood count if the clotting does not continue for a prolonged period of time.

Why does clotting occur?

  • Hormonal changes-Some blood clots occur due to hormonal changes from medications, ovulation, abnormal periods, and ovarian cysts. In most cases, these causes are not serious. However, ongoing problems may occur in relation to peri-menopausal symptoms, significant weight changes, long term medication, or chronic diseases.
  • Uterine problems-Changes or problems in the uterus could also cause menstrual clotting. Fibroids, which are benign growths on the uterine wall, are some of the most common causes of clotting as well.
  • Enlarged uterus-An enlarged uterus can occur in women who have experienced multiple pregnancies. Because the uterus is larger after pregnancy, blood can pool and then clot.
  • Cervical obstruction-When the normal flow of menstrual blood is obstructed, clotting may be detected. Obstructions can occur for a variety of reasons, including a decrease in hormone levels.
  • Endometriosis-Unusual bleeding, including blot clots, can be a symptom of endometriosis.

Blood Clots and Pregnancy

Blood clots can also be a sign of problems in a pregnancy. For some women, light bleeding or spotting isn't unusual during the early weeks of a pregnancy. However, heavier bleeding and clotting can signal that a miscarriage is in progress. Signs of a miscarriage can differ depending upon the individual, but some of the most common signs include the following:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Pelvic pain
  • Lower back pain
  • Bleeding and/or clotting

You should contact your doctor if you are experiencing any of these symptoms. Significant bleeding and/or blood clots may cause you to feel dizzy and/or nauseous.

When you get to the doctor, what should you expect? Your doctor will more than likely perform a pelvic examination. Tests will also be run on your blood and your urine. An ultrasound is typically used to diagnose a miscarriage as well. Your doctor may want to run a test on the blood clots and any other tissue that is evident.

Periods and Clotting

Finally, while clots aren't unusual during a menstrual cycle, contact your doctor if the following occurs:

  • The clots are larger than a quarter.
  • The clots have occurred for more than a day.
  • This is your first experience with menstrual clots.

Menstrual clots don't have to be a cause for concern, but being aware of your normal bodily functions and cueing in to abnormal symptoms can help you stay on top of any physical changes your body might be experiencing.

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Important Facts About Menstrual Clotting