Is Blood Donation Safe During Your Period?
Posted byLibby Mullen
So, today’s your office blood drive, and you’re famous for always participating in every charity event. You don’t want to break your streak, but it’s your TOTM. Is blood donation safe when you’re on your period? What about bone marrow or platelet donations?
Yes, you can safely donate blood on your period, according to the Community Blood Center of the Carolinas and the Australian Red Cross.1,2 That being said, you are the only person who can gauge what your body can handle. Some people, according to the Mayo Clinic, experience pain in their arm or lightheadedness after giving blood.3 Acetaminophen may help the discomfort, and drinking extra fluids may keep you from feeling woozy, but if you’re already uncomfortable from cramps, you might want to avoid feeling more crummy.
The Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center says it’s safe to donate platelets during your time of the month as long as you’re feeling well.4 Because the process of donating platelets takes much longer than donating blood, you may want to consider waiting simply for the comfort factor. Blood donation takes about an hour; the platelet donation process takes about two and a half hours.4 If you’re the type of person who urinates much more often on your period, or your cramps limit the positions you can sit in for long periods of time, you might want to wait a week until you’re more prepared for the process.
The American Red Cross notes that some people find donating platelets to be less of a shock to their system than donating whole blood, since your blood is returned to your system after the platelets are filtered out and a smaller needle is used. If you take aspirin to alleviate your cramps, you’ll have to wait two days (three in New York) before you can give platelets.5
Bone Marrow Donation
Donating bone marrow is a much more complex process than donating blood. If you’re attending a bone marrow drive, the hosts will simply swab the side of your cheek to collect more information about your body to understand whether you’re a match for someone in need. You can provide a cheek swab whether you’re menstruating or not.
The actual act of donating marrow requires a surgical procedure, in which a doctor uses a needle to remove marrow from your pelvic bone. You’d be placed under anesthesia.
According to the Polish Journal of Surgery, “Amongst surgeons, there is belief that menstruation is a contraindication to elective surgery. This is attributed to the functional impairment of the coagulation system and accompanying pain during the postoperative period, which may interfere with the general picture, and thus, possibly delay the diagnosis of postoperative complications.”6 It may be smart to hold off on non-emergency surgery until after your period, but only you and the surgeon can decide what’s right for you.
According to Be the Match, the majority of bone marrow donors feel back or hip pain and fatigue for 48 hours after their procedure.7 Menstruating is not listed as a contraindication to donating, but you again have to consider your own comfort levels. Make sure to speak with your doctor and/or surgeon if you have any questions or concerns.
1Community Blood Center of the Carolinas, Blood Donation FAQs. http://www.cbcc.us/donate-blood/blood-donation-faqs
2Australian Red Cross Blood Service, Frequently Asked Questions. http://www.donateblood.com.au/faq/menstruation
3Mayo Clinic Staff, Blood Donation: What You Can Expect. http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/blood-donation/basics/what-you-can-expect/prc-20020069
4Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, FAQs for Donating Blood & Platelets. https://www.mskcc.org/about/get-involved/donating-blood/faqs-donating-blood-platelets
5American Red Cross, Platelet Donation Frequently Asked Questions. http://www.redcrossblood.org/plateletFAQ
6Jakub Kenig, Piotr Richter, Łukasz Sikora, Menstruation- still a contraindication to elective surgery?, Polish Journal of Surgery. https://www.degruyter.com/view/j/pjs.2014.86.issue-1/pjs-2014-0010/pjs-2014-0010.xml
7Be the Match, Donating Bone Marrow. https://bethematch.org/support-the-cause/donate-bone-marrow/donation-process/donating-bone-marrow/
- Posted by Libby Mullen
- On September 25, 2017