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Menstrual Blood Problems: Clots, Color, and Thickness

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How are menstrual bleeding problems diagnosed?

Depending on your symptoms, your doctor may order a variety of tests to determine the reason for menstrual blood problems. These may include:

  • Vaginal ultrasound. This test uses sound waves to take a picture of the inside of your vagina and uterus.
  • MRI. This non-invasive procedure can provide an image of growths, such as fibroids, that may be contributing to your menstrual bleeding problems.
  • Blood work. Your doctor may order blood tests to determine whether your blood is clotting correctly. The tests will also help ensure that you are not suffering from anemia, an iron deficiency that can result from loss of blood or a clotting disorder.
  • Biopsy. In this procedure, your doctor will remove a small tissue sample from the lining of your uterus for analysis.
  • Dilatation and curettage. In this procedure, your cervix is dilated and a surgeon scrapes off the lining of the uterus and cervix. This can be used to help alleviate excessive bleeding or obtain tissue samples for analysis.

When should I see a doctor for menstrual bleeding problems?

Menstrual bleeding problems are rarely serious. Significant blood loss can occur over time, though, going unnoticed because it's so gradual. See your doctor if you experience any of the following:

  • Fatigue with normal activity
  • Lightheadedness
  • Pale complexion, ashen skin
  • Fingernail beds that are pale, not pink
  • Irregular periods, or frequent bleeding between periods

Anemia can be diagnosed with a simple blood test. Iron pills supplements result in improvement in most women.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Mikio A. Nihira, MD on August 22, 2012
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