Seeing period clots can be alarming, but just like how our bodies and minds are totally unique, periods will differ from woman to woman too – bleeding can vary from light, heavy or anything in between.
Today, we learn why some women will see clots in their flow and how mostly, this can be normal.
What are period clots?
Period clots describe when commonly, the texture of a menstrual flow forms as chunks and clumps, often with a jelly-like texture. Clots form during the shedding of the uterine lining during a period and they can vary in size and number. Because they can be mixed with old and new blood, the colour of period clots can range from brown and dark purple, to red. Noticing these clots on the heaviest days of your period is normal and is a result of the body’s coagulation process – when fluid blood turns into a semi-solid or solid state. The body will usually produce anticoagulants to enable period blood and endometrium lining to freely leave the body, however during a fast, heavy flow, the body hasn’t enough time for anticoagulants to work, and period clots will form. “There is usually nothing to be concerned about unless you are passing lots of clots with heavy bleeding, are having to constantly use double protection, changing protection more frequently than every four hours, or if your periods are making you anaemic,” says gynaecologist Mr Pisal.
What can cause period clots?
There are several causes of period clots, other than a standard heavy flow. Fibroids are often present with heavy periods and clots, and endometriosis can cause heavy, painful periods with clots too. "Polycystic ovaries, an underactive or overactive thyroid, perimenopausal changes, or more rarely, Endometrial cancer, can also all cause period clots and heavy menstrual flow,” says Mr Pisal.
When should you be worried about period clots?
Usually, period clots shouldn’t appear larger than a fifty pence piece, or cause you to change your pads or tampon excessively. “Because heavy periods with large clots can be an indicator of underlying problems such as fibroids, endometriosis or thyroid dysfunction, it is always a good idea to get things checked out with your GP or gynaecologist,” says Mr Pisal.
“If the clots and bleeding are making you exhausted and anaemic, your doctor is likely to arrange an ultrasound scan and blood tests to check your haemoglobin levels, thyroid function tests and iron levels.” He adds that if clots and heavy periods are also associated with bleeding between periods or after sex, you should definitely see a doctor.