Medically reviewed by Dr. Julie Graves, MD, MPH, PhD on March 18, 2020
A large number of women experience heavy bleeding during their periods. Birth control can help reduce bleeding or stop menstrual periods from happening in the first place.
While additional bleeding doesn’t always mean something is wrong, it can indicate medical issues. If nothing else, it is a nuisance.
For women with heavy periods who often pass blood clots, birth control can make a difference. Hormonal methods can regulate the root cause, making bleeding less severe and menstrual periods more mild in general.
Common Causes of Menstrual Clots
Menstrual clots are normal for some women. But an increase in the frequency of clots, period length, or in the volume of menstrual flow can be a red flag for other concerns.
If symptoms become inconvenient or serious, check with your healthcare provider. Ask them to rule out other conditions that could be associated with excessive menstrual bleeding. Those include:
- Endometriosis. Endometriosis is a painful condition in which tissue usually inside the uterus grows outside of it. Women with endometriosis experience irregular and painful periods, often accompanied by unusual bleeding.
- Fibroids. Fibroids are noncancerous growths that are often associated with heavy periods. The bleeding caused by fibroids can be serious enough to cause anemia.
- Hormonal imbalances. Although imbalances have many causes, a few are common: Hypothyroidism, menopause, and polycystic ovarian disease may affect the duration and intensity of the menstrual cycle, leading to abnormal clot formation.
- Cancer. Cancer of the cervix or uterus can result in abnormal bleeding associated with blood clots. However, this bleeding tends to occur out of cycle.
Let your doctor know if you experience menstrual clots during your period, but don’t be alarmed. Remember that menstrual clots are very different than blood clots in veins or arteries, which can be very serious.
Your body can pass menstrual clots with relative ease. But if they become a problem, ask whether birth control might be a good solution.
How Birth Control Can Reduce Menstrual Clots
Hormonal birth control pills can regulate a woman’s monthly cycle as well as result in lighter periods and reduced cramping.
Many women use minipills — birth control pills that only contain progestin — to reduce the intensity of bleeding. For some women, taking minipills regularly may stop periods altogether.
Because every woman’s body functions a bit differently, not all women react to birth control pills the same way. Estrogen, which is used along with progestin in combination birth control pills, can sometimes act as a clotting agent and cause blood to congeal more easily.
While women who are particularly sensitive to estrogen should consult with a medical provider first, most women do not need to worry about the clotting properties of estrogen. Modern birth control pills contain levels of estrogen too small to cause blood clotting in the vast majority of women.
Should I Be Worried About Menstrual Clots?
While menstrual clots can be extremely frustrating, they are rarely problems in and of themselves.
If accompanied by other symptoms, talk to your doctor about treatment options that may be right for you. For many women, birth control is a useful tool for reducing clots.
If you’re interested in adopting a new method of birth control, touch base with the Nurx medical team. We’ll find one that works for you.