Donating plasma is a great way to help others in need. Plasma contains proteins that help fight diseases and is used to make lifesaving medicines. However, many women wonder if they can donate while on their period. This article provides a comprehensive guide on donating plasma during menstruation.
Overview of Plasma Donation
Plasma is the liquid part of blood that contains important proteins. It makes up about 55% of total blood volume. Plasma itself is about 92% water. The remaining 8% contains:
- Albumin – helps maintain blood pressure and volume
- Clotting factors – helps blood clot
- Immunoglobulins – antibodies that fight infections
Plasma donation centers extract plasma from blood and return the red blood cells and platelets back to the donor. The plasma is then manufactured into different medical therapies.
Some conditions treated with plasma-derived therapies include:
- Immune deficiencies
- Bleeding disorders like hemophilia
- Burn victims
- Shock and trauma patients
Plasma donations are extremely safe. Sterile, single-use equipment is used for each donation. The entire process takes about 1-2 hours. Donors can provide plasma up to twice per week, with at least one day between donations.
Can You Donate Plasma on Your Period?
The short answer is yes, you can absolutely donate plasma while menstruating. Period blood comes from shedding the uterine lining and is separate from the bloodstream.
Menstruation has no impact on plasma itself or donation eligibility. As long as you meet all other donor criteria, donating on your period is not an issue.
Some key points:
- Period blood contains some plasma, but losing it does not affect plasma levels
- Having your period does not make you anemic or lower protein levels
- Menstrual flow is not considered active bleeding in terms of donation eligibility
- Plasma centers use sterile collection equipment to prevent any contamination
The only exception is if you have extremely heavy flow that makes you feel weak or dizzy. Otherwise, donating while on your period is perfectly fine.
Donation Eligibility Requirements
To maintain safety, all donors must meet certain eligibility criteria set by the FDA. While being on your period does not disqualify you, other factors can impact donation eligibility.
- Age 18-65 years old
- Weigh at least 110 pounds
- Be in good general health
You cannot donate if:
- You are pregnant
- Have bleeding disorders like hemophilia
- Have HIV/AIDS or hepatitis
- Used intravenous drugs
- Gotten a tattoo or piercing in the last 12 months
- Had recent surgery, injury, or blood transfusion
- Cannot donate more than twice in a seven day period
- Must wait at least 48 hours between donations
- Annual donation limit of no more than 100-125 donations
Always consult with the plasma center if you are unsure about eligibility. Be completely honest about your health history. Providing plasma when you are not eligible puts others at risk.
Preparing to Donate Plasma on Your Period
If you plan to donate while menstruating, a little preparation can make the process more comfortable:
- Wear a pad instead of a tampon – Tampons are not allowed during donation
- Bring extra sanitary supplies like pads, wipes, and clean underwear
- Take an over-the-counter pain medication ahead of time if needed
- Drink extra fluids before donating to prevent feeling lightheaded
- Consider wearing dark loose pants or a dress in case of leaks
- Use menstrual cups if you prefer them, but remove before donation
Also remember that you may have extra vaginal discharge and bleeding afterwards. This is normal. Just change feminine products after donating.
Some plasma centers have restrooms to change pads after donating. If not, wear protective underwear as a backup. Having supplies easily accessible in your bag is a good idea.
What to Expect When Donating Plasma on Your Period
The plasma donation process is the same whether or not you are menstruating. Here are the basic steps:
- Registration: Check in at the plasma center and provide eligibility information.
- Screening: Confirm you meet health criteria through questions and a mini-physical.
- Donation: The actual plasma collection takes about 45-60 minutes. You are seated comfortably in a reclining chair. Sterile needles are inserted into your arm to draw blood and return red cells/platelets back.
- Refreshment: After donating you can enjoy refreshments and snacks while waiting 10-15 minutes to make sure you feel okay.
- Payment: Finally you receive compensation for your time and donation.
The staff will guide you through the entire process. It is very similar to whole blood donation except the red blood cells are returned to your body.
Let the screener know you are menstruating. They will provide pads, clean garments, or let you change if needed before starting. Just relax and know that donating while on your period is not an issue!
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are answers to some common questions about donating plasma during menstruation:
Can I use a tampon while donating plasma?
No, you cannot wear a tampon while donating. Needles are inserted into the arm so nothing can be inside the vagina. Use pads instead.
Should I reschedule my donation if I start my period?
There is no need to reschedule. You can safely donate as normal while on your period.
Can plasma centers test my blood for pregnancy?
Yes, all donations undergo testing. The centers can detect a pregnancy from the blood test.
Is there a risk of TSS (toxic shock syndrome) from donating on my period?
No, there is no increased TSS risk from plasma donation. TSS is associated with leaving tampons in too long. Donating does not affect this.
Can I take ibuprofen or acetaminophen before donating on my period?
Yes, taking an over-the-counter pain medication beforehand is fine if you are experiencing cramps or other discomfort.
Do I need to use menstrual cups or discs instead of pads while donating?
No, you should remove any menstrual devices and use a pad during the donation process. Needles in the arms require nothing be inserted vaginally.
What if I leak onto the donation chair?
Don’t worry about leaks or stains! The staff expects this possibility and the chairs are cleaned thoroughly between all donors. Just let them know if you do leak.
Plasma Donation Tips
Here are some additional tips for a smooth plasma donation experience:
- Eat a healthy meal and hydrate well before donating
- Avoid fatty foods right before donating
- Get a good night’s sleep
- Wear a short sleeve shirt or something with loose sleeves
- Bring something to occupy you like a book, laptop, or music
- Avoid alcohol for 12-24 hours prior
- Take it easy after donating and drink more fluids
- Apply pressure at the needle site for 5-10 minutes once the needles are removed
Plasma Donation Safety
Donating plasma is extremely safe. However, some people may experience side effects like:
- Dizziness, nausea, sweating – Drink fluids and get fresh air
- Bruising, redness, or pain – Apply ice packs and take pain relievers
- Fatigue – Rest after donation
More serious reactions like fainting, vomiting, or allergic issues rarely occur. Plasma center staff are fully trained in safety protocols and donor care.
Donating plasma is an easy, safe way to help save lives. Being on your period does not affect eligibility or prevent you from providing this valuable donation. With some preparation for comfort and a few precautions, you can become a regular plasma donor. Take pride in knowing your plasma donations make lifesaving medical treatments possible for many people.