We all know menstruation is complicated and a lot messier than what how they're portrayed in commercials. One swift move after hours in the same position can lead to a leak. And after getting your period, you probably thought you've gotten the hang of it until one ~weird~ thing happened: You started seeing blood clots. These are the jelly-like blobs of blood that can form while you're on your period. (To be honest, it kind of looks like the chunks in strawberry jam, lol). Sometimes, if the clot is big enough, you can even feel it. But what does it mean? Where does it come from? And more importantly, is it normal?
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Menstruation with blood clots: Is it normal?
When you think about blood clots, you probably think about what happens after you accidentally get a cut. To stop the bleeding, your body combines platelets and plasma in your blood and acts as a "plug."
The clot that comes out of your vagina when you're menstruating is different, though. It's essentially the lining that builds up in your uterus and when you don't conceive, it leaves your body through menstruation. When you have a heavy flow, that's when the clots appear. Your body forms clots so you don't lose too much blood. Another contributing factor is how small the opening of your cervix is. If you're experiencing a heavy flow, the platelets and plasma in your blood can congeal and turn into clots before it can leave your body.
Menstrual clots are generally not dangerous, and small clots are normal. They usually happen in the beginning of your cycle and are either bright or dark red. If they happen too often, however, and are bigger than an inch, you might have a medical condition that needs to be checked.
Menstruation with blood clots: heavy bleeding
If you regularly get large period clots every month and your period is harder to control because it feels more like it's gushing than flowing, then you may have menorrhagia. When you have menorrhagia, your period can be so intense that it keeps you from doing everyday activities because of the heavy flow and cramping. Other symptoms include:
- You have large blood clots when you're on your period.
- Your period lasts longer than a week.
- You go through several sanitary napkins or tampons in a few hours.
- You need to change your napkin or tampon in the middle of the night.
- You experience pelvic pain on your menstrual cycle.
- You feel tired, unenergetic, and short of breath.
Menstruation with blood clots: other conditions
As mentioned, menstrual clots can be normal, but when they occur too often and in larger sizes, it can be a sign of an underlying condition. There are some conditions that cause the uterus to get bigger, which then affects the pressure put on your uterine wall. When your uterus is obstructed, it can affect its ability to contract; when this happens, the blood can coagulate and collect inside. These obstructions happen to people who have endometriosis, adenomyosis, and fibroids.
Common among women, endometriosis is a disorder in which the tissue that typically lines the inside of your uterus is growing outside of it instead. This can affect the tissue lining your pelvis, ovaries, and fallopian tubes.
Adenomyosis is when tissue lining the uterus grows into the muscular wall, which makes them thicker. Women who have adenomyosis experience a heavy flow and their cycles also tend to last longer. Additionally, this condition can cause inflammation, pressure, and pain.
Fibroids are noncancerous tumors that grow in the uterine wall. Apart from heavy menstrual bleeding, your period can also be irregular. Pain is also present, usually felt in the lower back; and during sex. It can also lead to fertility problems.
Menstruation with blood clots: Can it be controlled?
According to Healthline, there are two ways to deal with blood clots caused by heavy bleeding. Hormonal contraceptives can help slow the growth of fibroids: "A progestin-releasing intrauterine device (IUD) may reduce menstrual blood flow by 90 percent, and birth control pills may reduce it by 50 percent." There's also surgery. If the fibroids in the uterine wall are too big and you're not responding to medication, surgery may be needed to remove the growths. Make sure to talk to your doctor about all the possible treatment options if you have period clots that hinder your ability to live normally.
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