You are likely to experience blood clots when menstruating at some point in your life. Period blood clots or menstrual blood clots are basically your body’s way of preventing you from losing too much blood during periods. They look like red blobs of jelly and are made up of blood, tissue, mucus, and vaginal fluids.
Tissues line up in the endometrium or inside the inner walls of the womb to create a rather inviting place for an embryo to grow in. This is in response to the female hormone, estrogen. When the expected pregnancy doesn’t happen for any number of reasons, the uterus starts to contract to shed this lining which is no longer needed.
This violent contraction of the uterus or the womb leads to a blood bath, no literally! The blood vessels inside the uterus begin to bleed. The bleeding along with the unfertilized egg goes out of your body through the vagina every 28 or so days.
During every period, you are at risk of losing too much blood, which could lead you to be anemic. Plasma and platelets work together to form clots and mix with the liquid blood. This is what gives these clots their red colour. Finally, along with the bleeding, the clots too leave your body. Quite amazing how our bodies work, isn’t it?
When do clots happen?
Period blood clots form when blood just sits inside the uterus without there being too much movement. After being stagnant for too long this blood forms into clots.
What causes menstrual clots?
What do large blood clots during period mean? Heavy bleeding with big clots might be an indication of an underlying condition. Some of these are as follows:
Uterine polyps and fibroids
A uterine fibroid or polyp can cause obstruction and lead to heavy bleeding along with pain and clotting. This is especially true for polyps that grow in the cervix or the uterine lining.
The thyroid gland is responsible for the production and distribution of all the hormones in your body. If it starts malfunctioning, well, a lot of things can turn upside down in your body, including your reproductive system. Heavier period than normal with clots could be your body’s way of signalling that all is not well.
In endometriosis, tissues that typically grow inside the uterus start growing outside, usually on the fallopian tubes. What's more? These tissues behave like your regular tissues inside the uterus, meaning they bleed and pile on top of each other, under the illusion that they are helping make a bed for the baby. This condition can cause severe cramps, bloating, blood clots, heavy flow and other symptoms of a period but only that much worse.
By now, almost all netizens know that a thing called PCOS exists. But what is this thing, how does it happen, when does it start developing? The answers to that are a still very vague and being debated over. But, one thing is for sure, it wreaks havoc on your body at the hormonal level. Passing large blood clots during period along with heavy menstrual bleeding is often a warning sign of PCOS.
Women who suffer from PCOS can go month and months without a period. The uterine lining keeps thickening and growing. At the end, when a period does occur, it is heavy and full of massive, accumulated blood clots.
If you are pregnant, and have noticed blood in your panties, run to your doctor. It could be a miscarriage.
During the nine months of your pregnancy, you don’t experience periods at all. The tissues keep building up, the place getting cosier for a developing foetus. If you experience a miscarriage, you might notice bleeding with really large blood clots. The tissues lined inside the inner walls along with the egg comes out along with the blood.
If you’re pregnant and experience heavy blood clots along with bleeding, you might be having an ectopic pregnancy. Seek medical support immediately. In an ectopic pregnancy, the fertilised egg attaches itself somewhere outside the uterine cavity, mainly in the fallopian tubes. This type of pregnancy is very dangerous for the mother and can lead to massive bleeding that can be fatal if not taken care of immediately.
Being on certain kinds of medications too, can lead you to experience heavy periods such as birth control pills, anti-depressants, blood thinners, etc.
Are period clots serious?
Not always! It is completely normal to experience clotting during periods. But, if you are passing clots larger than the size of a 10-rupee coin, we might have a serious issue at hand.
How is the cause of menstrual clots diagnosed?
To check what’s causing you to experience heavy menstrual clots, your doctor might examine your uterus and do a pelvic exam. They are going to ask for your medical and family history.
They will want to rule out the possibilities of endometriosis, PCOS, fibroids or any other obstructions. They are going to recommend a few tests such as an ultrasound, MRI, and a few blood tests.
How are menstrual clots treated?
The real question when should you be concerned enough to go visit a doctor? It's simple really, anything out of the ordinary for two or more cycles of menstruation warrants a visit to your ob-gyn. If you notice you have been passing clots larger than your usual size, get things checked out, just to be sure.
Here are a few ways in which your ob-gyn might treat heavy clotting in your periods:
By prescribing birth control pills
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
Ingestion of tranexamic acid
Or surgery, if nothing else works
Hope you found this article helpful! And the next time you notice something odd about your periods, don’t stress out, visit your ob-gyn or leave your concerns below. :)