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Is Menstrual Clotting Dangerous?

A woman with menstrual cramps.
Iron mineral supplement.
The female reproductive system.
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  • Written By: Sheri Cyprus
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 06 April 2014
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Most menstrual clotting isn't dangerous or serious. It is important to take note of any changes in a menstrual period such as heavy bleeding and lower back pain, as well as clotting, however. These could be signs of a condition that requires medical treatment.

Menstrual clotting that occurs during pregnancy may be dangerous as it could indicate that the baby is growing outside rather than inside the uterus. Clotting and heavy blood flow could also signal a miscarriage or other pregnancy problems. If a pregnant woman is experiencing heavy bleeding and/or clotting, she should seek medical help immediately. Even if a woman who is experiencing these symptoms doesn't think she is pregnant, she is usually tested for pregnancy when a doctor is looking for the cause of the clotting.

Another common cause of heavy menstrual bleeding and clotting is uterine fibroids. Uterine fibroids are smooth muscle, non-cancerous tumors that grow in various parts of the uterus. Symptoms of uterine fibroids include back pain along with heavy bleeding and menstrual clotting. Doctors can conduct tests to check for the presence of fibroids.

Menstrual clotting can be a normal part of menstruation. Clots in the menstrual flow may simply mean that the blood is passing through the body at a fast pace. Some medications can cause changes in the menstrual flow that include clotting. This cause can be difficult to prove, but may be easier if a woman has recently started experiencing menstrual clots soon after starting a new medication.

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Significant changes in weight — whether loss or gain — could also cause menstrual clotting. Clotting during menstruation can also be a normal part of peri-menopause, or the time before actual menopause occurs. Menopause is the end of menstrual periods for a woman, but in many cases, changes in blood flow may happen years before it occurs. Hormonal changes also cause clotting. If clotting as part of a menstrual period is something new for a woman, or if the clots are bigger than the size of quarters, she should get medical advice as soon as possible.

A woman who experiences any changes in her menstrual period that last more than a month, should report the change to her doctor. In most cases, menstrual clotting isn't dangerous, but when doctors know it's occurring, they can conduct tests to find the cause. Any other health concerns caused by the clotting or heavy periods should be addressed. For example, if a woman is losing a lot of blood through her menstrual flow, a doctor may prescribe iron supplements.

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Discuss this Article

anon347907
Post 7

What if you've clotted so much you're not bleeding at all, yet have all the pains, etc. of a period. I've already done a test and I'm not pregnant, yet I have no bleeding, but have all the pains, etc.

donasmrs
Post 6

There is a condition where the endometrium forms on organs outside of the uterus and has to be shed during menstruation. My aunt has it and she has a lot of blood clotting during her period. I think that's a very dangerous situation and it causes a lot of pain for her.

The most doctors can do is remove the endometrial tissue from the organs if it doesn't shed on its own. But having a hysterectomy or taking birth control pills helps prevent it I think.

turquoise
Post 5

@fify-- Yes, that's normal. I have clots during my menstrual cycle too.

By the way, the pink clots are not blood clots. That's the endometrial tissue. Getting rid of endometrial tissue is the entire purpose of menstruation. Some red blood clots can also form in the process. That's normal too.

I would only be alarmed if the blood clots were very, very large and if you had immense pain.

fify
Post 4

I have lots of pink and red blood clots during my menstrual cycle. My periods are heavy but not very painful. Is this normal?

Ana1234
Post 3

@bythewell - There are a couple of really good services that cater to girls who are just starting their period that deliver information, supplies and candy to their door every month at the right time.

I mean, it's no substitute for having a good talk with an adult about what it all means, but I really like the idea of getting candy once a month.

Mostly, I find the whole thing kind of gross. Clots are gross and having a period in general is gross. Not because I think women are gross, but because I don't like body fluids in general and menstrual blood clotting makes it worse.

bythewell
Post 2

@Mor - Yeah, that's one of the reasons I think it's so important to make sure your daughter has good information about her period. I'm not one of those people who thinks we should all dance in the moonlight whenever auntie Flo comes to visit, but it can be scary and it can be messy and it's good to understand what is going on.

I had never heard that unusual clots could mean there was something wrong, for example. That would be good information to have for the future, although I do know that any drastic changes in general should be taken to the doctor.

Mor
Post 1

Menstrual blood clots can seem really scary when you're still young and you don't understand what they are. I guess even if you're an adult and you're not used to them they can be scary. But that is basically what blood does when there is a lot of it and it doesn't usually mean anything is wrong.

I remember when I was a kid I thought that the clots were actual fragments of flesh that had come from the womb, because I knew that the point of a period is to get rid of the lining of the womb to make another one if no fetus had been implanted.

And it wouldn't surprise me if lots of women still thought that. But they are actually just normal blood that happened to clot together, which is what blood is supposed to do when it exits the body, in order to stop the bleeding if there is a wound. I think, mostly, women don't bleed enough to see this happen, or they don't see it because of whatever method they use to stop the blood.

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