Passing blood clots during menstruation can be normal. However, passing large blood clots may be a sign that something’s wrong.
When to See a Doctor
Seek medical help before your next scheduled exam if you experience:
- Vaginal bleeding so heavy it soaks at least one pad or tampon an hour for more than two hours
- Bleeding between periods or irregular vaginal bleeding
- Any vaginal bleeding after menopause
Risk factors vary with age and whether you have other medical conditions that may explain your menorrhagia. In a normal cycle, the release of an egg from the ovaries stimulates the body’s production of progesterone, the female hormone most responsible for keeping periods regular. When no egg is released, insufficient progesterone can cause heavy menstrual bleeding.
Menorrhagia in adolescent girls is typically due to anovulation. Adolescent girls are especially prone to anovulatory cycles in the first year after their first menstrual period (menarche).
Menorrhagia in older reproductive-age women is typically due to uterine pathology, including fibroids, polyps and adenomyosis. However, other problems, such as uterine cancer, bleeding disorders, medication side effects and liver or kidney disease could be contributing factors.
Excessive or prolonged menstrual bleeding can lead to other medical conditions, including:
Menorrhagia can cause blood loss anemia by reducing the number of circulating red blood cells. The number of circulating red blood cells is measured by hemoglobin, a protein that enables red blood cells to carry oxygen to tissues.
Iron deficiency anemia occurs as your body attempts to make up for the lost red blood cells by using your iron stores to make more hemoglobin, which can then carry oxygen on red blood cells. Menorrhagia may decrease iron levels enough to increase the risk of iron deficiency anemia.
Signs and symptoms include pale skin, weakness and fatigue. Although diet plays a role in iron deficiency anemia, the problem is complicated by heavy menstrual periods.
Along with heavy menstrual bleeding, you might have painful menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea). Sometimes the cramps associated with menorrhagia are severe enough to require medical evaluation.