Menstrual Blood Clots: The Reasons Behind Your Jelly-ish Period
Experiencing menstrual blood clots may raise your concerns, as you’re probably unaware of the causes. Fortunately, having blood clumps during that time of the month is common and rarely becomes a huge problem.
Women and assigned females at birth (AFAB) mostly experience period clots at some point in their lives. The clots are usually present during their heaviest flows, which is during the first days of the cycle.
Despite being common, many people still worry about clots and wonder what are the causes. If you’re here to learn more about your menstrual clots, keep reading to find the necessary answers to your question.
What does it mean when I have menstrual blood clots?
Having menstrual blood clots usually means nothing aside from heavy flows. Heavy flows are common during the first days of a period cycle, hence why you’re more likely to have jelly-like clots at these times.
It’s perfectly normal for people to have menstrual blood clots at some point in their lives. As long as the clots appear infrequently (i.e., only on the first days of the cycle), you shouldn’t worry about health issues.
Menstrual blood clots are a sign that your body is trying to protect you. By forming the jelly-like texture, your body prevents too much blood loss.
However, you should be wary of big blood clots that occur persistently during your period cycle. Having them may indicate certain health issues that require medical assistance to resolve.
What causes my menstrual blood clots?
Menstrual blood clots happen as a result of increased bleeding from the uterus shedding its lining. The blood then pools around the uterus and starts to coagulate, resulting in a jelly-like blood texture.
This is particularly common during the first days of a period cycle. The amount of uterine lining shed is the highest at this time, which is why people mostly experience heavy flows, followed by menstrual blood clots on the first and second days of the cycle.
Therefore, the causes of blood clots in your period are mostly harmless. As long as you see them at the beginning of your cycle and they appear in small clots you shouldn’t worry too much about them.
On the other hand, if the jelly-like blobs persist and appear in larger sizes, then you may want to check your health condition. Unusual menstrual blood clots may indicate certain issues, hence you’ll need to seek medical help to resolve them.
Normal VS abnormal menstrual blood clots
Normal menstrual blood clots only appear in small sizes at the beginning of each period cycle. The jelly-like blood rarely indicates health issues and people will experience it at some point in their lives.
Alternatively, abnormal blood clots appear at larger sizes and may persist throughout the period cycle. They may also appear outside of the period cycle, which often raises concerns and confusion in people who experience them.
Aside from causing concerns and confusion, many people also complain about severe pain along with blood clot excretion. In this case, seeking medical help is what we advise to detect any health issues that could be present.
What are the possible causes of abnormal menstrual blood clots?
Abnormal menstrual blood clots, or the unusual jelly-like blobs you see in or outside the period cycle may indicate certain issues. You should seek medical advice rather than trying to self-diagnose.
Medical professionals will be able to give a proper diagnosis and guide you through managing the symptoms. This way, you can return to healthier menstruation with fewer of the unusual and uncomfortable issues that may be present.
So what are the possible issues that cause abnormal menstrual blood clots? We’ll list them below:
Menorrhagia is a condition where you bleed heavily during your period. Though it’s common for people to experience heavy flows at the beginning of the cycle, having menorrhagia is another story.
This condition makes people who have it bleed heavier than usual. For instance, they may fully soak their sanitary pad or tampon in less than 2 hours.
Menorrhagia commonly leads to frequent menstrual blood clots, as the body tries to protect itself from bleeding too much. The size of the clots is also larger –with some clots as large as a quarter or more, making people with this condition experience severe pain from the heavy bleeding.
Miscarriage refers to when someone loses their pregnancy. Most miscarriages happen in the first trimester, or before he 12th week of pregnancy, and affect 10 - 20% of pregnancies.
During a miscarriage, experiencing blood clots is common. This is because the uterus sheds pregnancy tissue. The size of the clots varies depending on the pregnancy age, or how long since the miscarriage occurred.
In addition, disrupted menstrual cycles often follow the occurrence. They may bleed heavier than usual, as the uterus is still shedding the remaining tissues from the pregnancy, resulting in the inevitable menstrual blood clots.
Polyps and fibroids
Polyps and fibroids can settle in the uterus and affect your menstrual flow. Made of endometrial tissues, the growth can cause menstrual blood clots, heavy bleeding, and irregular bleeding during that time of the month.
Aside from that, both polyps and fibroids' growth can lead to fertility problems. As a result, not only will people with this condition possibly experience frequent blood clots, but they may also find it challenging to get pregnant.
The thyroid is a gland in your neck that serves to regulate hormonal balance. Having a dysfunctional thyroid condition, such as hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, can affect your menstrual flow.
People with dysfunctional thyroid glands may experience changes in their menstrual patterns. For instance, those with hypothyroidism may have excessive bleeding during the cycle, leading to menstrual blood clots.
On the other hand, those with hyperthyroidism may experience lighter-than-usual bleeding. They may also frequently have spotting or bleeding in between period cycles.
While hormonal birth control causes irregular or lighter-than-usual periods, it’s different from non-hormonal ones. Non-hormonal birth control like IUDs may increase your flows, triggering your body to produce the jelly-like blobs known as menstrual blood clots.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) usually causes irregular periods. People with this condition may go months without having menstruation. Once they finally menstruate, often the flows become heavier, which leads to menstrual blood clots.
Certain medications such as anticoagulants, anti-inflammatory, and hormonal medications may contribute to your abnormal and heavy bleeding.
If you’re prescribed any of these medications, you should take note of the consumption and ask your doctor about the possible side effects.
Endometriosis affects the uterus lining tissues. In this case, the tissues grow outside of the uterus, such as on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and other pelvic organs.
People with this medical condition may experience heavier or prolonged menstrual bleeding. This is because the endometrial tissues that grow outside of the uterus still respond to hormonal changes –thicken and shed during the period cycle.
As a result, there will be more bleeding during the menstrual cycle. The body will coagulate the blood to keep the bleeding under control. This is why people experiencing endometriosis may notice larger and more frequent clotting.
Adenomyosis is a condition in which the uterus lining tissues grow into the muscular wall of the uterus. This results in an enlarged, tender, and painful uterus, particularly during menstruation.
This condition can lead to heavy bleeding due to inflammation and the thickening it causes to the uterine lining. As a result, people experiencing this condition may notice menstrual blood clots along with other symptoms like pelvic pain and cramps.
Von Willebrand disease
Von Willebrand disease is a bleeding disorder that leads to heavy and prolonged bleeding. People with this condition are missing von Willebrand or a protein that helps the blood to clot properly.
As a result, they may experience more frequent blood clotting. The clots are also large, with a size of more than a quarter.
It’s important to seek medical help in any case of this bleeding disorder. Untreated von Willebrand disease may increase the risk of anaemia and dangerous bleeding during childbirth.
What are the complications of abnormal menstrual blood clotting?
Abnormal menstrual blood clotting is associated with heavy bleeding during period cycles. Heavy bleeding accounts for several complications, which lead to uncomfortable sensations during menstruation.
The following are some of the complications that arise along with heavy menstrual bleeding. See if any of these fit your condition and seek medical help when necessary:
Dysmenorrhea is painful cramping that occurs during menstruation. This condition isn’t limited to heavy menstrual bleeding. But when your flows are constantly heavy, you may be at risk of severe dysmenorrhea.
This is because, when you bleed heavily, your uterus increases its contraction strength. Stronger uterus contraction, subsequently, leads to more cramps around your pelvis.
Heavy bleeding during the period cycle equals more blood going out of your body. If the heavy flows persist, one may gradually lack sufficient blood to keep their body functioning properly, also known as anaemia.
Fatigue may arise as a result of dysmenorrhea or anaemia, or a combination of both. When your body is in constant pain, it will cause your body to become weak, which isn’t limited to the pelvic area.
On the other hand, lacking sufficient blood may also cause you to feel fatigued. With less blood than your body needs, it may be unable to function properly, which manifests as a feeling of weakness.
Uterus contraction often causes aches and pains around the pelvic area. The stronger the contractions are, the more likely you are to feel the muscle aches and pain outside that particular area.
Some people experience muscle aches around the buttocks and leg areas. When this happens, they may feel tired and unable to rest properly due to ongoing aches and pains.
How to manage uncomfortable and heavy menstruation?
Though uncomfortable sensations during heavy menstruation is expected, you shouldn’t hesitate to seek medical help when needed. Healthcare professionals can give you proper diagnosis and treatment to resolve the issues.
if you think that you’re yet to require professional help, you may want to do the following suggestions to keep your heavy period under control:
Taking necessary medications
Taking necessary medications, such as paracetamol and acetaminophen will help you reduce painful menstruation that may appear unexpectedly. However, you may want to avoid consuming painkillers that increase your risk of bleeding (i.e., NSAID drug class).
Aside from that, you can also try herbal medications. Herbal relieves that contain Chamomile, Dandelion, Ginger or Angelica root may help you deal with painful menstruation safely.
Drink enough water
Drinking water, though it seems to be counterintuitive, can help you reduce painful menstruation. Having enough water intake –at least 2L a day will help your body increase blood flow and relaxes tense muscles.
As a result, the cramps caused by uterine contractions will be reduced. You will also stay hydrated, which is important to maintain your health.
Consume nutritious food
Consuming nutritious food is good for your overall health, including your reproductive system. With sufficient nutrition and vitamins, your body can balance out its hormonal levels, leading to more controlled menstrual pain.
Citing to Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, several foods are proven to gradually reduce menstrual pain, as listed below:
- Whole grains, including brown rice, whole grain bread, oatmeal, and more
- Vegetables, including broccoli, spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, and more
- Legumes, including beans, peas, and lentils
- Fruits, including apples, mangoes, berries, oranges, and more
However, aside from consuming necessary nutritious foods, there are some other foods that you may need to avoid, including:
- Dairy products, such as eggs, poultry, meats, and more
- Refined grains, such as white bread, pastries, refined cereals, and more
- Added vegetable oils, such as salad dressings, margarine, cooking oils, and more
- Greasy foods, such as cheese, fries, chips, and more
Take a rest
Taking a rest is essential to ease your menstrual pain. Your body can be able to refresh itself when you give it enough rest since it’s also uncomfortable for you to remain active during severe aches and pains.
Go easy on yourself and don’t ever feel guilty about giving yourself time to rest at this time.
Use heavy absorbency sanitary kit
Soaking a sanitary kit in less than 2 hours is common when you experience heavy menstrual flows. Using a heavy absorbency sanitary kit like period underwear can be an alternative to reduce the number of changes you need in a day and to give better protection against leaking.
Bring a spare sanitary kit
Since heavy menstrual flows soak your sanitary kit faster than usual, you need to bring a spare or more when you go outside. This way, you can always change your sanitary kit whenever needed with ease.
Experiencing menstrual blood clots, which are common during heavy menstrual flows, can be confusing for many people. Thankfully, this condition rarely indicates health concerns. Even when it does, seeking medical advice will help in resolving the causes.
Several methods also help you in managing the heavy flows associated with menstrual blood clots. That includes supplying necessary medications, drinking enough water, consuming nutritious foods, and using heavy absorbency sanitary kits.
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