Causes Of Menstrual Clots
During menstruation, the endometrial cells that line the uterus strip away and leave the body.
As this happens, the body releases proteins that cause the blood in the uterus to coagulate. This coagulation prevents the blood vessels in the uterine lining from continuing to bleed.
The blood that the body has already shed also contains these coagulation proteins.
When the flow is most substantial, the coagulation proteins within the blood may start to clump together, resulting in menstrual clots.
This generally occurs when menstrual blood pools in the uterus or vagina before leaving the body.
Although it is normal to have clots in the blood during menstruation, this symptom can sometimes signal a medical issue. It is advisable to seek medical advice if the clots:
- are larger than a quarter in size
- are very frequent
- occur with an abnormally heavy flow that requires a person to change their pad or tampon at least every 12 hours
- occur with significant pain
The following conditions may cause abnormal menstrual clots:
When Should You See A Doctor For Heavy Bleeding
You should call the attention of your doctor when you notice one or some of the following symptoms:
- Extremely heavy menstrual bleeding from the vagina which soaks one tampon at least within the space of two hours.
- Irregular vaginal bleeding. Always take note of when you begin to notice bleeding in between periods.
When Should I See A Doctor For Heavy Periods
Many women have come to accept heavy bleeding as a normal part of their cycle. This helps explain why over half of women with menorrhagia dont know they have it, or know that heavy periods are treatable. If left untreated, heavy periods can cause other health concerns like anemia, a red blood cell condition that makes it difficult for your organs to get the oxygen they need.
If your period affects your daily life by causing you to miss work or school, cancel social activities or plan your day around bathroom breaks, you might have menorrhagia. Heavy bleeding can cause other physical symptoms that can make you dread getting your period like extreme fatigue, very painful cramps, lightheadedness, anxiety and depression.
We recommend making an appointment with one of our womens health doctors if you experience any of the above symptoms. A doctor will be able to diagnose whats causing your heavy periods and recommend treatment options. If youre not sure whether your period is normal, just ask!
Our womens health doctors at HealthPartners and Park Nicollet are here to answer your questions. Well help you put an end to planning your life around heavy periods.
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How Much Blood Loss Can Occur Before You Need A Transfusion To Recover
The average hemoglobin level is between 13.5 to 17.5 grams per deciliter for men and 12 to 15.5 grams per deciliter for women. Most doctors wont consider a transfusion until the hemoglobin levels in your blood reach 7 or 8 grams per deciliter.
This isnt the only parameter involved in the approach to treating blood volume loss if youre actively bleeding. However, hemoglobin level is important for making a red blood cell transfusion decision. Your doctor and care team will use these and other factors to decide if a transfusion is necessary and if itll be effective for your situation.
Minor blood loss isnt inherently harmful or even dangerous. The average adult can lose a fair amount of blood without experiencing any symptoms.
Heres how much blood is lost and what to expect from:
Do You Have Heavy Menstrual Bleeding
Understanding whether or not you suffer from HMB requires the accurate recordingof your menstrual history. The intensity of bleeding varies from person toperson, so determining what is clinically heavy is tricky. Furthermore, while asingle period can be heavy, a real problem isnât likely to exist unless the HMBis present at least most of the time.
The medical definition of this is when HMB is present for the majority of periods within the previous six months. Entering your bleeding intensity diligently and correctly in your Clue app will make it easier to assess if bleeding qualifies as heavy.
Your healthcare provider may ask you how many pads/tampons youhave been using in one day. Also, blood clots are very important to note â theirsize, number and color. They contain blood, and it is important to measure andcount them to get an approximation of how much blood has been lost.
Distinguish between regular and maxi tampons or pads, as maxi can usually absorbtwice more than regular .
Check how soaked your tampon or pad is. Is it fully soaked with blood, or justhalf?
Count blood clots they contain blood too.
For a menstrual cup, check the volume capacity and measure how full the cup is.
If the number of soaked tampons or pads is **sixteen or more** for the entireduration of your period , thenyour flow is heavy.
If you note 80mL or more blood with your menstrual cup for one entire cycle,your flow is heavy.
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How Much Bleeding Is Too Much
Under normal conditions, menstrual blood loss only constitutes 2 to 3 tablespoons of blood each month. This amounts to approximately 30 to 50 milliliters. Its normal to have heavier and lighter flow days during your periods. Heavier flow days usually occur at the beginning of your menstruation, and it tends to lighten as the days go by. Expelling some small clots is also considered normal.
Menorrhagia occurs when a woman suffers from prolonged or excessive menstrual bleeding. Menorrhagia is usually defined as losing more than 80 ml or 5 tablespoons of blood during your period. You should also keep track of any period blood clots larger than 1 inch in diameter can be another indicator of excessive menstrual bleeding.
Long periods can also be abnormal. If you period lasts longer than 7 days, you could still be experiencing menorrhagia. Polymenorrhea, on the other hand, refers to cycles that last less than 21 days, causing frequent menstruations. This is usually caused by anovulation.
Any condition that causes menstruation to become too heavy, too long, or too frequent can make you lose blood cells, leading to anemia due to blood loss. Excessive menstrual bleeding is the main cause of iron deficiency anemia in women.
What Is The Prognosis For Living With Menorrhagia
If left untreated, menorrhagia can interfere with daily life. In addition, it can cause anemia and leave you feeling tired and weak. Other health problems can also arise if the bleeding problem is not resolved. With proper treatment and doctor assistance, menorrhagia can be managed and not cause a disruption to your life.
Scar Tissue In Your Uterus Is Causing Issues
Most women who have gone through routine dilation and curettage procedures heal with zero complications, but sometimes severe scarring causes the walls of the uterus to stick to each other, causing whats known as Ashermans syndrome. If your period seems to have lightened up a lot after youve had a D& C, this might be your problem. You may need surgery to remove the scar tissue.
How Are Heavy Periods Diagnosed
Your doctor will ask about your menstrual periods and do a pelvic examination. During the examination, your doctor will check for signs of disease, infection, and abnormal growths.
If needed, your doctor may also do one or more tests to find out what’s causing heavy periods. These tests may include:
- A Pap test. This can look for signs of infection and changes in the cells of your cervix.
- Blood tests. These can check for anemia, a bleeding disorder, or other problems.
- A pelvic ultrasound. This test can look for any problems in the pelvic area.
- An endometrial biopsy. It can check for abnormal cell changes in the lining of the uterus .
- A hysteroscopy. This can check the lining of your uterus to look for the cause of bleeding, such as fibroids.
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What Is Normal Menstrual Bleeding
Every womans period is different. In fact, one woman can experience many variations in her period during her lifetime.
Most womens cycles last approximately 28 days, and their menstruations usually last anywhere between 3 to 7 days. Some women have naturally heavier periods. A perfectly normal period doesnt exist so, instead of focusing on whether your period is normal, you should learn the characteristics of your own cycle.
Being familiar with the way your menstrual cycle works will make it easier for you to determine whether something isnt right, or quickly discover any changes. You can use a menses calendar, like Flo, to keep track of your cycle.
Your cycle should last anywhere between 21 and 35 days, and it should be somewhat regular. Having a cycle that varies a couple of days each month is normal, but anything longer than that could be cause for concern.
How Menstrual Clots Form
Your menstrual period starts when hormones trigger your body to shed the lining of the uterus . As the lining sheds, small blood vessels bleed.
To prevent too much blood from being lost, your body forms blood clots using a combination of plasma and platelets .
Mixed into the menstrual blood are also bits of tissue from the uterine lining. Thus, what appears to be a blood clot may actually be a clump of endometrial cells. Or, it can be a mixture of both endometrial cells and blood clots.
Dark red or blackish clots may appear during the first few days of your period when the flow is heaviest. Your period may start or end with bright red blood clots, too. This means the blood is flowing quickly and doesn’t have time to darken.
When your menstrual flow is heavier, blood clots tend to be bigger because there’s a larger amount of blood sitting in the uterus.
In order to pass larger blood clots, the cervix has to dilate a bit, causing pain that can be quite intense. This partially explains why, if you have a heavy flow, you’re more likely to have cramping.
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What Can You Do To Feel Better
If you have severe cramping during your periods, taking an NSAID such as ibuprofen or naproxen may help. An NSAID works best when you start taking it 1 to 2 days before you expect pain to start. If you don’t know when your period will start next, take your first dose as soon as bleeding or cramping starts.
Heavy periods can make you feel weak and run-down and can lead to anemia. Your doctor may suggest that you take an iron supplement if your iron levels are low. You may be able to prevent anemia if you increase the amount of iron in your diet. Foods rich in iron include red meat, shellfish, eggs, and beans.
What Causes Heavy Periods And Abnormal Bleeding
In girls, pregnancy and dysfunctional uterine bleeding are likely to cause abnormal bleeding.
In perimenopausal women, consider endometrial carcinoma. General bleeding problems such as von Willebrand’s disease may be the cause as well.
It is an abnormal thing if you have to use 2 or more pads within two 2 hours.
Heavy bleeding can also be related to the following issues:
Dysfunctional uterine bleeding . This is a heavy and/or irregular bleeding in the absence of recognizable pelvic pathology. It is associated with anovulatory menstrual cycles. Anovulation is a medical term for the situation when the ovaries do not release an oocyte during a menstrual cycle. Therefore, ovulation does not take place.
Complications in pregnancy. Heavy periods can be due to a miscarriage and it can also be as a result of an abnormal location of the placenta .
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Abnormally Short Or Long Periods
Normal periods can last anywhere from two to seven days. Short periods may be nothing to worry about, especially if theyre typical for you. Using hormonal birth control can also shorten your cycle. Going into menopause can disrupt your normal cycles as well. But if your periods suddenly get much shorter, check in with your doctor.
Some of the same factors that cause heavy bleeding can make your periods longer than usual. These include a hormone imbalance, fibroids, or polyps.
Cramps are a normal part of periods. Theyre caused by uterine contractions that push out your uterine lining. Cramps typically start a day or two before your flow begins, and last for two to four days.
For some women, cramps are mild and not bothersome. Others have more severe cramps, called dysmenorrhea.
Other possible causes of painful cramps include:
What Blood Clots During Your Period Mean
Monique Rainford, MD, is board-certified in obstetrics-gynecology, and currently serves as an Assistant Clinical Professor at Yale Medicine. She is the former chief of obstetrics-gynecology at Yale Health.
For most women, occasional clots in period blood are normal and nothing to be concerned about. That said, it’s also possible that another condition is causing abnormal blood clots to appear in your period blood.
This article is a guide to menstrual blood clotswhat they’re made of, how they form in your period blood, and possible signs that something else could be causing them.
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Key Points About Heavy Period Bleeding
If You Use Tampons Pads Or Period Underwear
Its a bit harder to measure total menstrual loss when you use absorbent tampons, pads, or period underwear, but it can be done.
First, take into account the items fully soaked capacity. Regular tampons, for example, hold 5 milliliters of fluid. Super tampons hold double that.
If you lose 60 milliliters during your period, you may soak through 6 to 12 tampons depending on the size you use. If you lose half of that, youll likely use fewer.
You can keep a log to help you get a better idea of how much youre losing. You should note:
- what product youre using and its size
- how often you have to change it
- how full it is when you change it
Logging this info for your next three or four periods will give you enough data to calculate a reasonable estimate.
If you can help it, avoid fully soaking an absorbent product. Pushing a tampon or other product to its limit may result in a leak or other unwelcome side effects. The general rule of thumb is to change tampons, pads, and underwear every .
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