As if bleeding profusely wasn’t tiring and worrisome enough, there also tend to be times where heavier bleeding, in the form of clots and clumps, also shows up. Many of these clusters are normal and we will share what is typical and what may suggest a second glance by you “gyno”.
Clotting is the body’s natural response to bleeding, in order to keep you from bleeding out too much too soon. Ever had a bad scratch or abrasion that quickly scabbed up? That is actually clotted blood creating a barrier of sorts to prohibit further hemorrhaging. Period blood may not have scabs (as the flow is fluid and the function behind the bleeding is different), the clumps that come out during your cycle may simply be the onset of clotting taking place inside the vaginal walls.
It is rare that this is a sign of trouble, but to be on the safe side, let’s discuss what’s routine and what’s risky.
Normal clumps. As alarming as they may seem to appear, clumps can happen naturally during your cycle as your hormones activate the shedding of the uterine lining. At the same, your body is releasing anticoagulants to break up the blood so that it flows easily and consistently. When and if the bleeding starts to out-pace the anticoagulants, clotting and clumping can form. Like a traffic jam on the feminine freeway. Your body attempts to keep everything moving steady but if too much “traffic” is coming through, there is likely to be congestion of sorts. Everything slows down until it is flowing smoothly again. Make sense? Clumps can be just a series of secretions that formed together during that process and exiting in a larger-than-normal cluster.
Another experience you may have with normal clotting is the endometrium (that is, the mucous membrane lining the uterus, which thickens during the menstrual cycle in preparation for possible implantation of an embryo) shedding that thick lining in clusters of endometrial cells.
These clots likely appear darker in color the first few days of your cycle and are typically smaller than that of a quarter. They also shouldn’t be in a large quantity. You should notice a decrease in clots as your period continues on, decreasing in the amount of blood and sightings of clots. This also may accompany menstrual cramps that mirror the clotting. Because the cervix is dilating more to push these clots through, the cramps may be a bit more intense during this time, lessening as your period becomes lighter.
There are a host of other reasons that could contribute to clotting other than just a heavier-than-usual flow. Here, we list some other common causes and encourage you to talk to your healthcare provider about a professional diagnosis and solutions for any you may be experiencing.
Age and medical background. It could be hereditary or simply a change in body functions due to the aging process. Because of possible medical history in your family, there isn’t a specific age frame to identify as the onset.
Adenomyosis. Symptoms of adenomyosis typically include menorrhagia, pelvic pain and dysmenorrhea. Fully developed, a hysterectomy is often used to treat it in premenopausal and perimenopausal women.
Cervical or Uterine Cancer. Though this is unlikely, it could potentially be an issue of concern or sign of such diagnosis.
Endometriosis. This is the development of uterine-lining tissue outside the uterus. Symptoms may include abdominal pain, heavy periods that include clotting and clumping, as well as, infertility.
Hormonal imbalances. From thyroid issues to polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and even the 7 naturally-occurring phases of womanhood like perimenopause, and menopause, your menstrual cycles can be irregular, which may result in clotting and heavy bleeding from the uterine lining not being shed efficiently.
Miscarriage. This is defined as the spontaneous loss of a fetus before it is viable, which in the United States is the 20th week of pregnancy. Sadly, around one-quarter of all pregnancies result in miscarriage and one of the early signs of such is clotting, outside of a menstrual cycle.
While these above conditions aren’t the only possibilities, they are some of the more common and certainly worth seeking medical attention for. One of the ways you can help your healthcare professional get an accurate read on what you are experiencing is to ensure you are monitoring your blood loss and any clumping or clotting in your panties. Apele panties serve as a protective layer that help with catching that excess flow of blood and can assist you in assessing what is going on down below and how often. Have more questions? We are happy to discuss. Feel free to contact us!