Clots & Color-Cause For Concern?
It is not abnormal for the color and density of menstrual blood to change during the course of a menstrual cycle. However, there are times when changes in the color and thickness of the blood or the presence of clotting may indicate a problem. If you are worried, see your doctor.
What Happens During A Normal Cycle
During a normal menstrual cycle, the uterine lining thickens in preparation for a fertilized egg to embed and grow. When this doesn't happen, the body expels the lining of the uterus along with blood during the menstrual period. The amount of lost blood is between four and 12 teaspoons each cycle. The average cycle lasts about 28 days. However, many women cycle at 21 days and some as late as 35 days. Three to five days is the average length of each period; however, again it can vary between two and seven days.
Clotting Isn't Unusual, Generally
Clots occur during the menstrual cycle from time to time. They may be bright red or dark in color and are shed on the heaviest days of bleeding. If there are a few clots in the menstrual flow, it may appear to be thicker than usual. The body releases anticoagulants (a hormone to stop clotting) in order to permit blood flow during menses. If the blood flow is heavy and fast, then the anticoagulants do not have enough time to work properly. Clots are then able to form and are expelled in the blood. If there is excessive clotting, or the clots are larger than a quarter, a health care professional should be seen to rule out any serious problems.
It is normal for the color of the blood to change toward the end of the period. The blood turns dark when it is not expelled from the body as quickly as it was at the beginning of the period. Heavy flows are usually not problematic. Nevertheless, if the period is consistently very heavy and there is significant blood loss, consult a physician. Some women take heavy periods to be normal and end up anemic due to excessive blood loss. In many cases, this is a condition called menorrhagia and requires medical attention.
Color And Density Changes In The Blood
Changes in the color and density of menstrual blood are often quite normal. In spite of this, there are some serious conditions that can cause color and thickness changes. It is important to talk with a health care provider if there is any concern about menses to rule out potential or existing problems.
The common causes of clotting and change in color and thickness of menstrual blood include miscarriage, fibroid tumors and hormonal changes. If a woman is pregnant and begins to pass clots and blood, immediate medical care should be given. Fibroids, non-cancerous tumors that form in the womb, often have no symptoms. However, women with fibroids often pass more clots in their periods. An upset in the hormonal system due to menopause, drastic weight change or medication, can also affect the flow of blood during menses.
If a woman is concerned at all about her monthly cycle, a visit to the doctor is in order to rule out serious implications and to put her mind at ease.