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National Women's Health Week: Women have unique blood clotting concerns

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womenPresident Barack Obama has proclaimed May 12 through May 18, 2013, as National Women's Health Week. "I encourage all Americans to celebrate the progress we have made in protecting women's health and to promote awareness, prevention, and educational activities that improve the health of all women."  Read the full proclamation, here

National Women's Health Week is a week-long health observance coordinated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Women's Health. It brings together communities, businesses, government, health organizations, and other groups in an effort to promote women's health and its importance.  

While blood clots (deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism) affect both men and women, there are unique health considerations for women.  

  • Blood clots can be life-threatening during pregnancy and are the leading cause of maternal death in the United States. (ref 1)
  • A woman is at increased risk for developing blood clots during pregnancy and that risk remains elevated for up to six-weeks following childbirth.  Pregnancy increases the risk of a blood clot fivefold, with the risk even higher in the postpartum timeperiod. (2)
  • Post-menopausal women undergoing hormone replacement therapy have a two to four fold increase in the risk for clots. (3)
  • Women with a clotting disorder (thrombophilia) have increased clot risk.  About 8% of the US population is estimated to have a clotting disorder and a clotting disorder is found in upwards of 50% of women who have a blood clot during pregnancy.
  • Women with a clotting disorder experience a higher rate of pregnancy complications including repeated miscarriage or stillbirth.(4)
  • Oral contraceptives increase clot risk.  Some contraceptives carry higher risk than others.   More information on contraceptives and clot risk. (5)

Clot Connect offers information about clotting concerns unique to women:   index of topics and materials related to women's health.



1. Berg CJ, Atrash HK, Koonin LM, Tucker M. “Pregnancy-related mortality in the United States 1987-1990”. Obstet Gynecol 1996;88(2):161-7 Also see Marik. P.E. and Plante, L.A. “Venous Thromboembolic Disease and Pregnancy”. New England Journal of Medicine, volume 359, number 19, November 6, 2008, pages 2025-2033.

2.Heit JA, Kobbervig CE, James AH, Petterson TM,Bailey KR, Melton LJ, 3rd. Trends in the incidenceof venous thromboembolism during pregnancy or postpartum: a 30-year population-based study. Ann Intern Med 2005;143(10):697-706

3. Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis and Pulmonary Embolism US Department of Health and Human Services 2008

4.  March of Dimes

5. http://www.clotconnect.org/patients/what-do-i-need-to-know/i-m-a-woman-on-contraceptives