Blood clots can be a very useful mechanism within the body. When you get a paper cut or other minor injury, the blood eventually stops flowing because of blood clots at the site of the wound. The clot stops you from losing all of your blood through one small cut. When the blood within your veins forms a clot, however, this same mechanism that usually protects you can turn deadly instead. Blood clots in your veins can break off and travel to essential organs, causing a heart attack or stroke. Understanding the common causes of blood clots helps you know if you’re at risk for this complication.

1. Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a condition that comes with plenty of risks, including blood clots. The additional weight puts pressure on your pelvis, which compresses the blood vessels in your legs and pelvic area. Pregnancy also causes your blood to clot more quickly due to an increase in estrogen. This increase in estrogen is a useful adaptation during labor and birth, but can also cause dangerous blood clots to form during and after your pregnancy. This risk level is relatively small in most pregnant women, but it increases when other risk factors for blood clots are present. To lower your chances, stay active and hydrated throughout your pregnancy.