It is that time of the month and you expect those red stains in your underwear. But, what if you find some unusual thick chunks of blood and not the normal red blood in your pad. Well, those chunks of blood are blood clots, which we technically call menstrual or period blood clots. Menstrual blood clot often becomes a reason for fear for most of the women because we do not have enough knowledge about the same and clots look scary.
The fact is that there is nothing to worry when we get blood clots during our monthly menstrual cycle. Blood clots are as normal and natural as the menstruation.
What are blood clots?
Generally, blood clots that occur from blood circulation are the natural way for controlling excess bleeding from our body during injury, which could lead to death. Clots are formed during the process of making fluid blood to a semi-solid or solid state, which is called coagulation.
What are menstrual/period blood clots?
Menstrual blood clot is a thick form of blood which is discharged from your body when you menstruate. Menstrual blood clots contain blood, fibrin, and endometrial tissues. The clots are mostly seen when the blood flow is heavy, that is, usually in first few days of the menstrual cycle. Blood clots look some jelly like substance and they can be of different size and colour.
How do period blood clots occur (Causes of menstrual blood clots)?
Period blood clots are formed when the blood is not able to pass immediately and get retained inside the uterus. Thus, the faster the blood flows during periods, clots are less likely to form. When we menstruate, the thick outer layer of the uterus or womb breaks and anticoagulants are released. This anticoagulants (blood thinner) break down the thick menstrual blood for smooth flow before they go out of your body.
So, when you have a heavy flow, your menstrual blood is discharged so fast that anticoagulants fail to break down the thick blood, which is when the clots form.
Is inconsistency in period blood clot normal?
It is very much normal that you experience inconsistency of blood clot every month. Blood clots can come in one month and may not come in another month and it can depend on your lifestyle, food you take, or fluctuations in hormones, which affect the thickness of uterine lining. The size and the color of the blood clot can vary too. The color of your blood clot is generally dark red, which makes a menstrual flow look thicker.
Also, do not worry if the colour of your menstrual blood becomes darker when your period is about to end. Change in blood colour is normal and it always happens when your menstrual flow comes to slower pace. The dark colored blood is the one which could not be discharged from the body immediately.
What does having large blood clots during period mean?
While small clots are considered normal, large period blood clots are not something to be avoided. Large blood clots are the results of extremely heavy flow during the periods. If your period flow is often heavier than normal, then visit your doctor.
Heavy menstrual bleeding, medically known as menorrhagia mostly affects girls who have just started menstruating or women who are approaching menopause.
Here are a few indications of unusual heavy flow or we can say symptom of heavy flow:
- Bleeding that spans more than seven days: Bleeding normally lasts for 4-5 days and only 2-3 tablespoons of blood are lost during periods. But, if there is very heavy flow, the periods lasts for more than 7 days and amount of blood lost is twice the normal amount.
- Passing very large blood clots (say, size of the blood clot larger than a quarter)
- Soaking through a pad or tampon every one or two hours: If you keep changing your sanitary napkin every one or two hours, it is a clear sign of heavy bleeding.
- Anaemia: Anaemia is another signal of blood clot. It is a condition which shows the lack of iron or other nutrients in the body. It mostly occurs in women who experience heavy loss of blood. Some of the symptoms include tiredness, low energy, lethargic.
Some of the causes of heavy flow/large period blood clots are as follows:
- Uterine fibroids: Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous growths that can cause increased bleeding thereby cloting.
- Adenomyosis: Adenomyosis is a condition in which the inner lining of uterus breaks through the muscle wall of the uterus due to which the muscle fibers of the uterine wall are unable to contract efficiently. Adenomyosis can cause pain and severe menstrual bleeding.
- Large uterus: After multiple births, the size of the uterus can increase which can lead to increased amount of blood flow resulting in big clots.
- Imbalance in hormones
- Huge change in weight
- Some medications which can increase bleeding
Heavy menstruation can affect your quality of life as it affects your emotional state and social life. Also, if heavy bleeding is not treated timely, then it may ultimately lead to anaemia, which causes fatigue, lightheadedness, and pale skin.
Doctor visit/When is menstrual blood clot alarming?
As mentioned, if you get a heavy blood flow on regular basis, leading to thick blood clots, visit your physician to be on a safer side as unusual blood clots may signify health issues.
Occasionally, blood clots accompanied with other symptoms, are alarming as there might be underlying problems. It is good to rule out any problem that might come up in future.
Some of the questions your doctor might ask you during the visit:
- When did you get your first period?
- How long your periods usually last?
- How many days during your periods you get heavy flow?
- Do you have family history for heavy bleeding?
Thus, make sure, you know the above information and have a list prepared before visiting your doctor. Never lie to your doctors out of embarrassment because doctors will treat you as per your problems.
Some of the tests your doctor might advise you to take if he doubts any medical disorder in you:
- Blood test
- Blood test can be recommended to check thyroid issues, anaemia, etc.
- Pap test: In pap test, the cell of your cervix is scrapped and examined to check if you have cervical cancer.
- Ultrasound of pelvis
- Endometrial biopsy: In Endometrial biopsy, tissue sample of uterus lining is examined to check if you have any abnormal cell or cancer.
Does endometriosis cause period blood clots/heavy menstrual flow?
Endometriosis is a condition in which, the tissue which lines the uterus (called endometrium), grows outside the uterus. Generally, endometriosis occurs in places such as ovaries, fallopian tubes, the tissue that lines your pelvis, behind the uterus, or on the bowels or bladder.
Endometriosis, in a very rare case, also occurs in lungs and other body parts. The growing tissue can lead to growths, called implants or tumors. However, the growths are usually benign, that is, they are not associated with cancers.
During the monthly menstrual cycle, the uterus lining sheds and you bleed. If you suffer from endometriosis, the outside growth of the uterus also bleeds during the periods. However, as the blood fails to leave the body, it gets trapped and can lead to inflammation and scar tissues. It may also result in blockage in the intestine and affect the functioning of bladder.
Heavy menstrual flow thereby period blood clots is one of the general symptoms of endometriosis. Some of the other common symptoms of endometriosis include, painful menstrual cramps, lower back pain, pain in the pelvic area, intestinal pain, painful bowel movements, pain after sex, not able to get pregnant, etc.
Home remedies to prevent period blood clots
Some of the top 10 home remedies to control excessive bleeding or menstrual blood clot:
1. Coriander seeds:
Coriander seeds help in balancing female hormones in the body and also improve functioning of uterine. Thus, coriander seeds can help stop heavy menstrual cycle.
Put a teaspoonful of coriander seeds in two cups of water.
Boil it for 5 mins or until the quantity of water goes to half. Strain the water, add little honey in it and drink while the water is still warm.
Do it 2-3 times a day during your periods.
2. Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar also balances hormones by flushing toxins out of the body. Thus, try apple cider vinegar to get rid of heavy menstrual flow. It is also very helpful if you feel symptoms like headache, cramping, fatigue, etc.
Take a glass of water and add 1-2 teaspoons of raw apple cider vinegar and drink it 2-3 times a day during your periods.
Broccoli helps in preventing anaemia, which causes large blood clots.
4. Cold pack
You can also try cold pack if you face heavy menstrual flow. The cold temperature constricts the blood vessels thereby reducing the blood flow and also the pain in lower abdomen.
Take a thin towel and put a few ice cubes inside and wrap or tie it properly so that ice cubes do not come out. Place the ice wrapped with towel on your abdomen for 10-15 minutes. You can repeat the same every 3-4 hours if you still see the symptoms.
5. Blackstrap molasses
Blackstrap Molasses is rich in iron and increases the production of red blood cells. It may regulate the amount of blood lost during periods and thus, reduce blood clots.
Add 1-2 teaspoons of blackstrap molasses in a cup of milk or warm water and drink it once in a day.
6. Cayenne pepper
Cayenne pepper is another great remedy to control excessive menstrual bleeding as it helps in balancing the flow of blood in the body. It also helps in maintaining hormonal balance.
Take a glass of warm water and add ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper. Add a few drops of honey. Drink it 2-3 times a day during your periods.
Note that cayenne supplements should be taken only once in a day, that also after consulting doctor.