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.
The specifics of 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:
- Bleeding between your periods, during sex, or after menopause
- Long periods lasting 7 or more days
- Irregular periods
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.
Causes of abnormal bleeding
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:
- Platelet dysfunction
- Hormonal changes
- Early pregnancy
- Polycystic ovary syndrome
- Uterine cancer
- Cervical cancer
- Uterine fibroids
- Uterine polyps
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.
Tests for abnormal uterine bleeding
If you have abnormal bleeding, Dr. Patterson will examine you, and he may order some tests, including one or more of the following:
- A pregnancy test, if you’re not in menopause
- Blood tests, including a complete blood count and a test of how well your blood clots
- A thyroid test (thyroid problems can often also indicate ovarian problems)
- Hormone levels
- A pelvic ultrasound
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).
Treatment for abnormal uterine bleeding
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.
- We are still seeing obstetrics patients in our office to ensure that our pregnant patients are getting the prenatal care they need. If you’re pregnant, please call us to book your appointment today. We are also seeing patients in our office for annual well-woman exams, as well as those who are having gynecological problems or emergencies.
- Here's what we're doing to ensure the safety of our patients who come into the office for their appointments:
- We are ensuring that patients are not experiencing respiratory issues when they visit our office.
- We are sanitizing all services on a regular basis.
- We are wearing masks and gloves to reduce the probability of virus transmission.
- We are washing our hands for 20 seconds after every interaction we have, inside and outside of the office.
Patients may not be accompanied by other people at their appointments.
- We are offering Telemedicine appointments for the following conditions: yeast infections, UTIs, birth control consults, vaginitis (vaginal infections), hormone replacement therapy consults, pre-menopause, menopause, amenorrhea, and abnormal periods. Please call us to determine if your need for services qualifies for a telemedicine appointment.