Are Menstrual Blood Clots Normal?
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Are Menstrual Blood Clots Normal?

by Aisle Team
Are Menstrual Blood Clots Normal?

Content Warning: This post discusses sensitive topics including miscarriage, chronic pain, and blood. Please proceed with caution.

The first time I saw a menstrual clot, I was a preteen. It was during one of my first menstrual cycles,  and I was totally unprepared. I had no idea what it was — my sex ed class hadn’t taught me a thing about this — and I was terrified! I was too embarrassed to ask my mom for help and I had no idea what to do. Luckily, I now know period clots are normal.

No one should feel afraid of their bodies. So, I’m here to answer the questions I was too nervous to ask back then. Let’s empower ourselves with information! 

What Are Menstrual Clots and What Causes Them?

Menstrual clots are gel-like blobs of coagulated blood or tissue. There are many different causes for period clots, varying from person to person. Menstrual clots are often just part of a normal period, but sometimes they can be a sign of an underlying health condition.

Normal menstrual clots are caused by, well, menstruation. During the menstrual cycle, the body sheds the lining of the uterus, known as the endometrium. As this occurs, small blood vessels rupture and bleed — that’s menstrual flow! The body naturally responds to this bleeding by forming blood clots to prevent too much blood loss. And that’s why you may have menstrual clots during your period!

Are Menstrual Clots Normal? 

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), blood clots are typical during menstruation. The occasional period clot is nothing to worry about. Many people with periods experience menstrual clots during their cycle. 

What Does a Normal Menstrual Clot Look Like?

First of all, let’s talk about size. Normal menstrual clots should be smaller than a quarter, averaging the size of a dime

Secondly, the color of a period clot can vary! Earlier in the period cycle, blood is released from the uterus quickly. This can cause period clots to be brighter red. When your flow is at its heaviest, period clots may look darker red, brown, or even black because the blood is older. 

Lastly, period clots typically look like blobs of jelly (think strawberry jam), but don’t worry if your period clots are stringy. This texture occurs because period blood isn’t just blood. Period blood also contains vaginal secretions, proteins that regulate blood flow, and tissue from your uterine wall.

When to See a Doctor About Your Menstrual Clots:

While menstrual clots are common, there are times when menstrual clots are a sign of an underlying health condition. 

You should speak to a doctor if your menstrual clots are:

Period pain is not normal. If you experience pain, you may have another condition like PCOS, endometriosis, or a uterine abnormality. If there’s a chance you are pregnant and you are experiencing a lot of bleeding, pain, and large clots, you may be having a miscarriage. You should always discuss period pain with a healthcare professional, who can diagnose the issue and provide a care plan.

What is Menorrhagia? 

Lastly, talk to your doctor about your menstrual clots. While this is described as heavy, menorrhagia is much heavier than a heavy flow day. It’s normal to lose up to 3 tablespoons of blood during a period — any more blood loss than that should be discussed with a healthcare provider. But of course, no one is measuring their period blood in spoons! 

Here are some more realistic signs you might have (menorrhagia) from the CDC:

  • Your flow soaks through one or more pads, period underwear, or tampons every hour for several hours in a row.
  • You need to double up on pads to control your menstrual flow.
  • You need to change pads, period underwear, or tampons during the night.
  • Your period lasts longer than 7 days.
  • Your menstrual flow is so heavy that it prevents you from doing the things you would normally do, like attending school or participating in sports.
  • You have constant pain in the lower part of the stomach during your periods.
  • You feel tired, lack energy, or are short of breath.

How to manage blood clots

One practical solution for managing heavy bleeding and clots is switching to reusable menstrual products like a menstrual cup, cloth pads and liners or period underwear. Soaking through too many disposable period products is a sad and expensive reality for a lot of bleeders. Switching to reusables or using period underwear or cloth pads in combination with your current products can provide a sense of security that makes dealing with menstrual flow much easier. So, if you're looking for a hassle-free option for those heavy flow days, consider giving period underwear a try. It could be a game-changer in your menstrual care routine.

Amanda Melhuish (she/they) is a genderfluid writer and comedian based in Brooklyn, NY. As a copywriter, they've worked with brands like OkCupid, One Medical, Fetch Pet Insurance, and more. Their work has been published on Reductress, The Periodical, and more. They also host "Open to Work: An Unemployed Comedy Show" in NYC at Brooklyn Comedy Collective. Follow their work @amandahasbangs on Instagram and TikTok. 

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