Abnormal uterine bleeding is any bleeding or spotting that occurs outside of your normal menstrual cycle. Extra-heavy or longer-than-usual bleeding also counts as abnormal.
A normal menstrual cycle includes about five days of bleeding every 21-35 days. Because many women don’t report their abnormal bleeding, exact statistics are unknown, but an estimated 1 percent of women in the United States deal with this condition.
Having bleeding outside of your menstrual cycle is not always a sign of a major problem, but it’s always a sign that your health requires more investigation. Dr. Alan Patterson explains what you need to know about abnormal uterine bleeding.
There’s a wide range of what’s considered normal when it comes to uterine bleeding and your periods. But certain symptoms are always considered abnormal.
These include the following:
Heavy periods, also called menorrhagia, are abnormal, too. “Heavy” is generally defined as bleeding that requires you to have to change your pad or tampon in 2 hours or less.
Abnormal uterine bleeding always warrants a medical investigation. It’s not something you should just dismiss as “normal for you” or something you have to get used to. Some of the causes of abnormal bleeding can be potentially serious, but others are easily treatable.
Among the causes of abnormal bleeding include the following:
Blood thinners, which are medications taken to reduce the risk of blood clots, can also cause abnormal bleeding.
When early pregnancy causes abnormal bleeding, it’s usually not a cause for further concern. However, it’s still a good idea to let us know about it when you come in for prenatal care.
If you have abnormal bleeding, Dr. Patterson will examine you, and he may order some tests, including one or more of the following:
He may do a hysteroscopic exam of the lining of your uterus to checks for polyps, fibroids, and signs of cancer. If he suspects cancer, he may biopsy the endometrium (the lining of the uterus).
Many causes of abnormal bleeding can often be treated, either with medications or surgery. Uterine fibroids, for example, may be surgically removed.
In some cases, a procedure called uterine ablation, which destroys the lining of the uterus, may relieve the symptoms of heavy abnormal bleeding. However, this procedure is not recommended for women who may want more children in the future.
Cancerous changes may be treated with removal of the uterus, called hysterectomy. More advanced cases of cancer may require chemotherapy or radiation, for which you would be referred to a cancer specialist.
If you have abnormal uterine bleeding, it’s always something that you should take seriously. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Alan Patterson at our office in Coral Springs, Florida, or request an appointment online.
Patients may not be accompanied by other people at their appointments.