PeriodMenstrual Cycle

What Are Blood Clots During Periods

Most women will experience menstrual clots at some point in their lives. Menstrual clots are gel-like blobs of coagulated blood, tissue, and blood that’re expelled from the uterus during menstruation. They resemble stewed strawberries or the clumps of fruit you may sometimes find in jam, and vary in color from bright to dark red.

How Menstrual Clots Form

Most women of childbearing age will shed their uterine lining about every 28 to 35 days. The uterine lining is also called the endometrium.

The endometrium grows and thickens throughout the month in response to estrogen, a female hormone. Its purpose is to help support a fertilized egg. If pregnancy doesn’t occur, other hormonal events signal the lining to shed. This is called menstruation, also known as a menstrual period or period.

When the lining is shed, it mixes with:

  • blood
  • blood byproducts
  • mucus
  • tissue

This mixture is then expelled from the uterus through the cervix and out the vagina. The cervix is the opening of the uterus.

As the uterine lining sheds, it pools in the bottom of the uterus, waiting for the cervix to contract and expel its contents. To aid in the breakdown of this thickened blood and tissue, the body releases anticoagulants to thin the material and allow it to pass more freely. However, when the blood flow outpaces the body’s ability to produce anticoagulants, menstrual clots are released.

To prevent too much blood from being lost, your body forms blood clots using a combination of plasma (the liquid part of blood) and platelets (tiny blood cells that bind together to form clots).

Mixed into the menstrual blood are also bits of tissue from the uterine lining. Thus, what appears to be a blood clot may actually be a clump of endometrial cells. Or, it can be a mixture of both endometrial cells and blood clots.

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