Menstrual Clots: Are They Ever Normal?

Menstrual Clots: Are They Ever Normal?

Just because you’ve been getting a period every month since puberty doesn’t mean you have it all figured out.

For example, why on Earth do you sometimes have large clumps of jelly sticking to your menstrual pad or tampon? Shouldn’t your period blood be more of a liquid than a jam? Should you be concerned about these jelly-like blobs that may vary in size and color?

Clots are most common during the heaviest part of your flow – which is usually the first few days. Gynecologists say many women notice period clots during the first and last years of their menstrual life. Usually, young women have quite heavy bleeding during puberty, which often involves clots: gel-like blobs of coagulated blood, tissue, and blood by-products that your uterus expels during menstruation. They resemble stewed strawberries or the clumps of fruit you may sometimes find in jam, and vary in color from bright to dark red. For many women, menstrual clots are normal, even though they can also indicate changes that may or may not be significant. 

Why Do Clots Appear?

Clots are the natural result of your body taking care of you. They are nature’s way of controlling every kind of bleeding. For instance, on a scraped knee, this mechanism leads to scar formation. But inside the uterus, the process results in a clot. 

During menstruation, the thick lining of your womb breaks away. As you menstruate, anticoagulants are released to break down thick menstrual blood before it leaves your body. During a heavy flow, blood is expelled faster and the anticoagulants may not have enough time to break down the blood. That’s when the clots form. As a rule, the redder the blood is, the faster it has reached the outside. The blacker it is, the longer it took to exit the body. If the blood is accumulating faster than your body’s ability to transfer it out of the uterus, clots are the result. It is usually nothing to worry about: you can manage clotting by using the right menstrual hygiene product that suits your flow.

How to Tell Whether Your Menstrual Clots are Normal

Many women routinely have some clotting during menses. Physical and hormonal factors can impact your menstrual cycle and create a heavy flow. Heavy flows increase your chances of developing menstrual clots. According to women health specialists, factors that determine whether clots will occur include the size of the uterus, the ability of the womb muscle to contract, any obstruction to the outflow of menstrual products such as polyps, adhesions, etc.

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

Normal clots are smaller than a quarter, only occur occasionally, usually toward the beginning of your menstrual cycle, and are bright or dark red in color. Abnormal clots are those that are larger than a quarter and occur frequently.

How to Manage Menstrual Clots

Menstrual clots in and of themselves are generally not harmful. One menstrual cycle that is different from your normal pattern probably doesn’t mean anything.  These clots are a normal part of our reproductive life. They may look alarming, but fear not, they may not be a “mysterious manifestation of a scary disease.”  Take time to let your body naturally heal each menstrual cycle, rest, think positively and nourish yourself during the red days. 

However, if your period is regularly very heavy (you have to change your pad or tampon every hour), and you are passing many large, thick clots, then visit a doctor for a health check, just to be sure.

You should also seek immediate medical help if you think you could be pregnant and pass clots. That could be a sign of miscarriage.

To determine the underlying cause of your menstrual clots, your doctor will ask if you’ve had previous pelvic surgeries, use birth control, or have ever been pregnant, and then examine your uterus and use blood tests to look for hormonal imbalances – or an MRI scan or ultrasound to look for fibroids, endometriosis, or other obstructions. 

The best way to manage blood clots is to use a menstrual product that helps you monitor the consistency of your menstrual blood. Tampons and pads absorb period flow, but cannot absorb thick blood or menstrual blood clots. Menstrual cups collect your flow and menstrual clots as they leave your body naturally. By using a menstrual cup, you are able to see the menstrual blood that is passed from your body. This can be important to get to know the color, consistency and quantity of blood lost during your period. Knowing these details about your flow means you can spot any significant changes in your period, which can be an indicator of some health issues.

If you’ve never heard of a menstrual cup before, have a look at Genial Day menstrual cups to see how it works and why it’s a healthier menstrual solution than tampons or pads.

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