Abnormal Uterine Bleeding
A normal menstrual cycle is generally between 24 and 38 days in length and a normal menstrual period typically lasts up to 8 days. While abnormal bleeding may be non-threatening and easy to treat, it can also be a sign of a serious issue and should be evaluated by your gynecologist.
What characterizes abnormal bleeding?
Abnormal bleeding may occur in the form of spotting between periods or after sex. Heavy bleeding during your period, having a menstrual cycle that is longer or shorter than normal, or having irregular periods are all forms of abnormal bleeding. Bleeding after menopause is also considered abnormal.
What can cause abnormal bleeding?
A women’s age may influence her period and cause abnormal bleeding. Young girls may not have regularly occurring periods when they first begin to menstruate. Women in perimenopause may also have changes such as skipped periods and lighter or heavier bleeding. Other problems such as fibroids or polyps, ovulation issues, bleeding disorders, miscarriage, or ectopic pregnancy may cause abnormal uterine bleeding. Some birth control methods like the IUD or oral contraceptives have been linked to abnormal bleeding. Certain types of cancer may also be responsible.
How is abnormal bleeding diagnosed?
You should visit your gynecologist for a physical exam and discussion on your health history and symptoms. It will be helpful if you can recall details about dates and lengths of your periods as well as how heavy the bleeding or spotting was. The doctor will perform a physical exam and decide what course of action or tests will come next.
What tests may diagnose abnormal bleeding?
Depending on symptoms displayed and the doctor’s evaluation, further tests may be ordered to determine the cause of abnormal uterine bleeding. Imagining such as ultrasonography, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and computed tomography (CT) may be used to visualize pelvic organs and structures. Sonohysterography is a type of ultrasound during which fluid is placed in the uterus through a small tube while imaging is performed. The gynecologist may use hysteroscopy to visualize the the inside of the uterus by inserting a thin, lighted scope in the vagina through the opening of the cervix. Collecting a sample of endometrium for an endometrial biopsy may be another test to determine the cause of abnormal bleeding.
What are the treatment options for abnormal bleeding?
Generally, medications are the first option to help treat abnormal uterine bleeding. There are several different options ranging from hormonal birth control methods to special medications. If medication does not control symptoms, a surgical procedure may be indicated to normalize bleeding.