Vaginal blood clots often accompany unusually heavy and often painful menstrual bleeding. Clots that accompany heavy menstrual bleeding can be a side effect of one of several gynecological conditions that can block the flow of menstrual flood. This backup of blood may result in clots. To eliminate menstrual blood clots, the primary medical condition must be treated.
Menstrual clots are thick, gelatinous masses of coagulated blood that form when blood accumulates more quickly in the uterus than it can leave the body. This may be due to hormonal changes or changes within the uterus itself that result from various disorders.
Menstrual bleeding that lasts longer than seven days, involves a heavy flow with clots and interferes with normal living is known as menorrhagia. This condition may be due to a hormonal imbalance, uterine fibroids, endometriosis or adenomyosis. Women who are nearing menopause may experience menorrhagia for the first time in their lives. Another term used to describe painful menstrual periods is dysmenorrhea. Women who suffer from dysmenorrhea are more likely to pass painful blood clots during their periods, according to experts at Penn State's Milton S. Hershey Medical Center College of Medicine.
Fibroids are noncancerous growths in the lining of the uterus that can vary widely in terms of size, shape and location. Fibroids can grow alone or in groups. When fibroids develop, they can affect the frequency, volume, pain and flow associated with menstrual periods.
Endometriosis results when cells from the lining of the uterus grow into other areas outside of the uterus, such as your ovaries, pelvis or fallopian tubes. These cells thicken, grow, break down and produce menstrual blood every month, just as they do in the uterus. But since this blood is not in the uterus, it cannot flow easily out of the body and instead may get trapped and form cysts and scar tissue. The actual causes of endometriosis are unknown.
Adenomyosis is similar to endometriosis, may occur along with endometriosis and can be difficult to diagnose. In adenomyosis, the uterine lining grows into the walls of the uterus. The symptoms are the same as in endometriosis and often include passing blood clots along with heavy and extensive menstrual bleeding.
Heavy bleeding with clots can result in terrible cramps during menstrual periods that can only be resolved with medication. If the cramps are severe enough and not well controlled by medication, a surgical procedure may be required to treat the source of bleeding. Extreme heavy bleeding can result in iron-deficiency anemia.
Some women may benefit from over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin and Nuprin) and naproxen (Aleve or Naprosyn). When taken just before your period begins and throughout, these medications not only relieve menstrual pain, they reduce the amount of menstrual blood flow, which, in turn, reduces the formation of clots. Since these medications can have long-term side effects, however, speak to your doctor before using NSAIDs for this purpose.
Hormone therapy in the form of certain types of birth control pills, hormone patches or injections can reduce heavy menstrual bleeding or stop menstrual periods altogether, which will then reduce or eliminate blood clots.
Most of the conditions that cause menstrual clotting are benign. These conditions can be treated and clotting will be reduced, but for adenomyosis and endometriosis, hysterectomy (removal of all or part of the uterus) is the only cure. Not everyone opts for a hysterectomy, however, because in most cases, these conditions and their symptoms are resolved once a woman enters menopause. This is a point to discuss with your doctor.