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Menstrual clots; clots during periods

Reviewed by Anthony White, MD
Menstrual clots; clots during periods

Many women experience clots during periods but the meaning of the menstrual clots can vary and in some cases can be more serious than others.

The science behind clots during periods



The formation of clots in any location, is our body’s way of taking care of us and attempting to control any bleeding. It is scientifically an amazing and technical process that our body carries out naturally without us even being aware. In a location such as the knee or elbow, when we suffer a scrape, the healing process leads to the formation of a scab. However, inside the uterus the process leads to the formation of a clot. The occurrence of clots during periods is due menstrual blood accumulating faster than the body can get rid of it. This inevitably leads to the blood pooling or being kept inside the uterus for long enough for it to clot. An indication of how quickly blood is leaving the body is how red it appears to be. The redder it is the faster it has been expelled and the blacker it is the longer it has been kept inside the body.

The factors that affect menstrual clots



Some women experience clots during periods on a fairly regular basis and in most cases, it is absolutely normal and nothing to worry about. There are some physical factors that are thought to determine whether or not a woman will experience clots during periods. These include:

  • Uterus size
  • Ability of the uterine myometrium muscle to contract
  • Diameter if the cervical canal
  • Adenomyosis
  • Fibroids
  • Obstruction to the outflow of blood



Other causes of clots during periods


A significant change in the colour of menstrual blood, suggesting a change in the amount of duration of the clotting could be a sign of an underlying cause such as:

  • Pregnancy.  If there is any chance that you are pregnant, it should be tested for immediately. Clots during periods can be a symptom of a problem pregnancy, ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage and can lead to further complications if it isn’t treated quickly.
  • Hormonal Changes. A sudden and short-term change in hormone production could be due to a number of things including ovarian cysts and medication. It is common for a woman to experience a random, unusual period, which returns to normal the following month. Long-term hormonal changes can be down to the menopause, chronic illness and extreme weight loss or gain.
  • Changes in the uterus. These changes may be down to factors such as fibroids (benign growths of muscle on the uterine wall) or adenomyosis (causes clots during periods through the reduction in ability of the uterine wall to contract).
  • Large Uterus. The size of the uterus can increase with multiple pregnancies increasing the likelihood of blood forming pools and leading to clots during periods.
  • Polyps. These are growths within the uterus that can obstruct the outflow of blood.
  • Outflow obstruction. Anything else that gets in the way of the flow of blood exiting the uterus including shrinkage of the cervical canal can lead to the formation of clots during periods.

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