Why are my periods thick?

Menstruation is a natural,periodic blood flow that is unique to each woman. Their duration, color, composition and volume vary from one individual to another. If you have a thick period, you may notice lumps of endometrium or even clots in your menstrual blood. Would you like to find out more about viscous periods and what causes them? Here's the lowdown.

Is it normal to have thick periods?

Thick periods can be a cause for concern for some women. These impressive periods are generally benign and completely normal. Remember that periods is not just blood. They are also made up of :

  • Uterine lace, i.e. fragments of the endometrium (mucous membrane lining the inner wall of the uterus);
  • Vaginal secretions (white discharge, also known as leucorrhoea);
  • Viscouscervical mucus.

These elements can change the appearance and consistency of menstrual flow. So, depending on the time of the cycle, you may have a viscous period containing a few pieces of endometrium, or a red, sticky period. In the majority of cases, thick periods go hand in hand with abundant menstruation and do not indicate any particular problem.

But be careful! If your bloody discharge is foul-smelling and associated with intense pain in the lower abdomen, consult your GP or gynecologist without delay.

What causes viscous menstruation?

Viscous periods can be caused by two things: pieces of endometrium and blood clots.

Endometrial lumps in menstrual blood

Have you noticed lumps in your period blood and wondered what they are? It's simply debris from the uterine mucosa that naturally evacuates through the vagina. In the absence of fertilization, the upper part of the endometrium detaches and is eliminated by the body for renewal. These pieces of endometrium are found in greater quantity on the heaviest days of the cycle. They can give your period a red, sticky appearance.

Blood clots in menstruation

It's also possible to observe blood clots in your period. These are not pieces of endometrium, but coagulated blood. Dark red in color and viscous in appearance, blood clots can be quite disconcerting. However, this phenomenon is completely natural and quite common.

During menstruation, the body secretes plasmin, an anticoagulant enzyme that thins the blood and prevents clots from forming. When you lie down at night, it's harder for the blood to drain away, and it clumps together and stagnates. When you wake up in the morning, you may discover clots in your sanitary napkin or menstrual panties, which is perfectly normal.

The heavy periods also encourage theformation of blood clots. A heavy flow of blood is sometimes difficult for the body to control, as it doesn't secrete enough plasmin. If you lose a lot of blood during your period, you're likely to notice blood clots on the days when your flow is heaviest.

Thick periods: what are the changes linked to the menstrual cycle?

The phases of the menstrual cycle and the hormones produced during it can influence the color and consistency as well as their consistency. As a result, your bleeding may become more viscous at certain times, and change color as the days go by.

Color variations

Menstrual blood loss can range in color from light pink to black and all shades of red. At the beginning or end of the period, when the flow is less abundant, the bleeding remains darker (dark red, brown or black). This is due to the oxidation of the blood, which remains in contact with the air for longer before being evacuated.

From the second or third day onwards, the blood often takes on a bright red color , indicating that it is rapidly draining from the uterus. It's at this point in the cycle that you may experience a thickened period with lumps of endometrium and blood clots.

Variations in consistency

The consistency of menstrual blood can vary according to the phase of your menstrual cycle, your hormone levels and the general state of your body. Menstrual blood can be very liquid or very thick, depending on the situation.

If you're in good health, your blood will be fairly fluid, and you may see a few lumps in your period. If your periods are slimy and red, it's because your flow is very abundant and you're evacuating a larger quantity ofendometrium. If your periods are thick and clotty, you may be suffering from a deficiency or hormonal imbalance, or your contraception may be unsuitable.

In fact, some pills act on thethickness of the endometrium, causing heavy, viscous periods. During the menopause, women experience hormonal upheavals that can lead to thick, irregular periods. Finally, slimy periods with blood clots may indicate an iron deficiency(anemia). So don't hesitate to make an appointment with your midwife or gynaecologist for a check-up.

Is it necessary to consult a health professional in the event of viscous periods?

Many women experience thick periods every month. As we've seen, this phenomenon is common and generally benign. It's perfectly normal to have a viscous, slimy period containing a few lumps of endometrium.

If you notice blood clots in your period, don't be alarmed either! It's a common occurrence, especially after a period of sleep, when blood flow is reduced by lying down. We do, however, advise you to keep an eye on them, especially if you notice that they measure more than 2.5 cm.

You should consider consulting a healthcare professional if :

  • You have thick periods accompanied by severe abdominal and lower back pain and burning;
  • You notice that your period has changed color and has a foul odor;
  • You're going through menopause and your periods are viscous, abundant and long, with blood clots;
  • You have noticed dark-red discharge and blood clots for more than a week;
  • You have dark, thick bloody discharge outside your period.

These symptoms could in fact indicate an infection, a uterine fibroid or polyp, a gynaecological pathology(endometriosis, adenomyosis) or herald a miscarriage. So listen carefully to your body, and contact your doctor promptly if you have any doubts.

FAQ about thick periods

Is it normal to have lumps in your period?

Yes, it's perfectly normal to have lumps of endometrium in your period from time to time. These are fragments of the uterine lining, which is renewed and shed every month in the absence of fertilization.

Why are my periods sticky and red?

You may experience red, sticky periods on the heaviest days of your cycle, or when your flow is too heavy. This phenomenon results from the elimination of a greater quantity of endometrial pieces, thus modifying the appearance of menstruation.