Ever wondered what those icky-sticky, thick clumps of blood in your period are? They’re known as menstrual clots, and they’re formed from a mixture of blood cells, tissue from the lining of the womb, and proteins from your blood.
Firstly, it’s important to be aware that everyone has menstrual clots to some extent, and it’s not necessarily a sign that anything’s wrong.
“Usually clots occur when the flow is a little bit heavier – generally the first two days of your period,” Dr Vanessa Mackay, spokesperson for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) explains. “When you’re bleeding heavily, the blood pools inside your vagina and it clots, much as it would do if you were bleeding elsewhere.”
When to worry
Like many things to do with gynaecological health, what’s considered ‘normal’ varies from one person to the next – so you might regularly experience heavy bleeding with clots, while your best friend might have a much lighter flow and rarely ever get any clotting.
The key thing here is knowing what’s normal for you, and that you only need to contact your doctor about menstrual clots if you’re worried about them in any way.
“If it changes significantly from what’s normal for you – so you suddenly get much bigger or more frequent clots – that might be a sign of something else,” Mackay says.
“A way to check for that would be if you’re having to change your sanitary product every hour or two, needing to wear tampons and pads together, or if the clots are larger than, say, a ten pence piece,” she explains. “Anything that suggests your period’s got a lot heavier than normal might be an indication you need to see your doctor.”