The ABCs of Blood Clots and Why You Need to Gab with Your Gyno About Blood Clots

Well, it takes a lot of the alphabet, and some of the roman numerals to describe the intense physiological magic that goes into clotting and clearing our blood stream! Simplifying an explanation runs the serious risk of being very inaccurate, and yet, we need to talk about all these numbers and letters your gyno throws around when she discusses blood clot risks! To form a clot we have to form what is called a fibrin clot. To form this clot fibrinogen has to be converted to this fibrin stuff that glues together to be the basis of clot. Once that clot starts, it becomes a whole bird’s nest full of whatever’s available to buttress up the walls. Stuff like tissue plasminogen activator, clotting factors, and plasminogen will glom onto the clot. But it all has to begin with fibrin. To generate fibrinogen into fibrin you need a molecule called thrombin to trigger this reaction. Too much clotting is a bit dangerous, so our physiology protects us by having thrombin circulate in the blood stream as prothorombin. In fact we even have a whole conglomeration of molecules that prevent thrombin from forming. Antithrombin III. Other anti-clot molecules work a bit differently, those are the Protein C and Protein S. If you don’t have enough of these thinning factors, normal situations can become serious clots. It is something you would inherit from your parents, and nothing we test for very regularly unless there is a reason to. In birth control pills there are hormonal substances that can affect the levels of the pre-clot factors, and thus some women, on some compounds are more at risk. But for individual risks and how that should change your contraception: you have to gab with your gyno.

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