It’s that time of the month again, but this time you notice clots in your menstrual blood. You’re thinking… this is new, and kind of scary, should I be concerned? If this sounds familiar, you are not alone! In this article we will discuss what menstrual blood clots are and why they form, when you should talk to your doctor, and the best ways to naturally support uterine health with self fertility massage, systemic enzyme therapy, and by supporting hormonal balance.
Many women write to us sharing details about their monthly menstrual cycles and often express substantial concern about blood clots.
Clots during your period – What are they? Why do they happen? What can be done about them?
Let me set the record straight, period blood clots can be completely normal and are often NOT a cause for concern. The catch is that there are times when menstrual blood clots may warrant a check-up with your Gynecologist. Read on to find out why…
What is a Menstrual Blood Clot?
The body naturally releases anticoagulants to keep blood thin and fluid (moving freely). Clots are the body’s natural way of controlling excess bleeding. Menstrual blood clots consist of a coagulated mass of blood, fibrin and endometrial tissue.
Why Do Period Blood Clots Form?
Period blood clots are traditionally viewed by many holistic healthcare practitioners as a sign of uterine stagnation due to lack of uterine strength, which may cause menstrual blood to inefficiently exit during menstruation. There are, however, a variety of reasons for period blood clots to form…
Pooling or retained blood – blood that stays inside the uterus is likely to clot due to the following reasons:
- Endometriosis – symptoms are thickening of the uterine lining and heavier blood flow during menstruation that may contribute to excessive clotting during menstruation.
- Post childbirth uterine size, meaning the uterus doesn’t successfully shrink back to its normal size (about that of a pear). During menstruation, blood may pool and clot inside an enlarged uterus before it is expelled.
- Uterine obstructions – anything within the uterus that may impede proper menstrual blood flow, such as fibroids, polyps and adhesions.
- Adenomyosis – a condition where endometrial tissue grows within the muscles of the uterine walls resulting in heavy menstrual blood flow, prolonged bleeding, and passing period clots during menstruation.
Excessive menstrual bleeding – heavy or strong flow during menstruation can cause blood to accumulate within the uterus faster than the body can completely and properly expel it. When this happens blood pools and clots.
Hormonal imbalance – if progesterone and estrogen (the hormones that control how the body sheds the lining of the uterus) are out of balance, the endometrial lining of the uterus can grow too thick. A thick uterine lining may result in heavier blood flow and more period blood clots.
For some women, period blood clots may be inconsistent and come one cycle, but not the next, or for several and then not show up again. This can be due to hormone fluctuations, diet, or lifestyle changes, all of which may affect uterine lining thickness. When there is a variation in the thickness of the uterine lining from cycle to cycle, the amount of menstrual blood can change as well, causing the formation of clots.
For women with chronic menstrual clots, the cause(s) may be “Other factors that can change hormone production on an ongoing basis include peri-menopausal changes, chronic illness, significant weight gain or loss, and use of certain long term medications such as steroids, or prolonged failure to ovulate,” shares Robert B. Albee, Jr., MD, Fellow of The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (FACOG) and Accreditation Council for Gynecologic Endoscopy (ACGE).
When Should You Talk to Your Doctor?
It would be best to talk to your doctor to determine if there is a fertility or other health issue affecting uterine lining health, or hormonal balance if…
- period blood clots are large and continuous for more than an hour
- many smaller blood clots are passed in a short period of time
- period blood clots are accompanied by a variety of other issues – fatigue, severe cramping or period pain, inflammation and swelling, bloating, prolonged periods, or excessive blood loss/flow, spotting or mid-cycle bleeding
- Saturating (not staining) a menstrual pad every hour for 4 hours means you should go to the emergency room or call your doctor immediately.
Many medical doctors feel that “Ibuprofen is one of the easiest ways to reduce blood clots and cramps. For best results, start the ibuprofen a day or two before your expected menstrual flow (600-800mg every 4 to 6 hours) as long as you are not sensitive to the drug,” according to Dr. Kim Langdon Cull (OB/GYN). If you aren’t sure about using Ibuprofen, consider learning about natural therapies instead.
The Best Ways to Naturally Support Uterine Health
There are a variety of herbs and natural therapies that are beneficial for increasing uterine health.
Red Raspberry Leaf (Rubus idaeus, spp.) – An herb packed with nutrients, vitamins and minerals like vitamins C and E, calcium and iron, Red Raspberry leaf is astringent to body tissues and is known to tone the uterine muscle which may be supportive in times of heavy bleeding as a result of uterine weakness.
Certified Herbalist Angela Justis of Herbal Academy: The International School of Arts & Sciences shares, “Raspberry is well-known by herbalists as a uterine tonic… Raspberry also has astringent properties used to tighten lax tissues. Together the fragarine and astringency are thought to be responsible for many of the raspberry leaf benefits for women by helping tighten and tone uterine and pelvic muscles. Hence, the infusion or tea consumed regularly throughout the cycle may be of assistance in cases of uterine prolapse and excessive menstrual bleeding. It is also used to help soothe painful muscle spasms in the uterus, helping to ease menstrual cramping…”
Self Fertility Massage – A series of massage techniques to support reproductive system health including increased circulation to the uterus, cervix, ovaries and fallopian tubes, hormonal balance, endocrine and immune system health and in support of the body’s stress response.
Systemic Enzyme Therapy – This natural therapy is known to support proper circulation and immune response within the body. More specifically, Systemic Enzyme therapy has been found to help the body reduce and dissolve tissue build up within the uterus and to reduce occasional discomfort in the reproductive system by supporting a healthy inflammation response.
Hydration – Staying properly hydrated is important for healthy flow of all fluids within the body, including, menstrual blood.
- Drink Water! Start the day with a quart of room-temperature water, add some fresh-squeezed lemon juice for liver support too.
- Drink Fresh Juice! Fresh-squeezed juice using a variety of whole, organic fresh fruits and vegetables provides antioxidants, vitamin and minerals that boost fertility.
Support Hormone Balance – This is an important one because the uterus is a part of the hormone feedback loop. The uterus is not only affected by hormone imbalances, but if uterine tissue health is poor, it may contribute to hormone imbalance by being a “weak link” in the hormonal feedback loop.
There can be specific fertility health issues leading to an increase in the presence of period blood clots, ranging from endometriosis, adenomyosis, uterine obstructions and/or size, and hormonal imbalance. These require specific attention in addition to naturally supporting the health of the uterus and its proper function. Period clots may be alarming, but fear not, they may not be a “mysterious manifestation of a scary disease.” If menstrual blood is bright red, this means uterine tone is healthy and menstrual blood is quickly being expelled even if small clots are present periodically during menstruation. Take time to let your body naturally cleanse each menstrual cycle, rest, think positively and nourish yourself during menstruation. Know that the appearance of period clots may change from cycle to cycle and if they become worrisome don’t hesitate to speak with your healthcare provider.
If continued concern exists over excess blood clots, your gynecologist may suggest some testing such as a blood count, thyroid testing, tests for clotting abnormalities, and possibly, an ultrasound. Medications such as oral contraceptives or progesterone supplements may be needed.
- Albee, R. B., Jr. MD. (n.d.). Menstrual Clots: What Do They Mean? Retrieved from: http://centerforendo.com/menstrual-clots-what-do-they-mean/?rq=clots
- Sandhya Pruthi, S. (Feb. 05, 2016). Menorrhagia (heavy Menstrual Bleeding). Blood Clots during Menstruation: A Concern?. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Retrieved from: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/menorrhagia/expert-answers/blood-clots-during-menstruation/faq-20058401
- Rodriguez, H., CH,. (n.d.). Natural Guide for Menstrual Health. Retrieved from: https://natural-fertility-info.com/natural-menstrual-health.html
- Womens Health Zone.” Are Blood Clots During Menstruation Normal? Womens Health Zone, 22 Apr. 2009. Web. 14 Mar. 2015. Retrieved from: http://www.womenhealthzone.com/womens-reproductive-health/menstrual-cycle/are-blood-clots-during-menstruation-normal/
- Albee, R.B., (n.d.). Menstrual Clots: What Do They Mean?. Center for Endometriosis Care. Retrieved from: http://centerforendo.com/menstrual-clots-what-do-they-mean/
- Justis, A. (Feb. 15, 2016). 3 Raspberry Leaf Benefits For Women. Herbal Academy. Retrieved from: https://theherbalacademy.com/3-raspberry-leaf-benefits-for-women/