Any vaginal bleeding that is not associated with your period is considered abnormal vaginal bleeding. This type of bleeding can range from spotting little quantities of blood between periods — which is frequently visible on toilet tissue after wiping — to extremely heavy periods, during which you soak a pad or tampon every one to two hours for two or more hours.
Menstruation (vaginal bleeding) happens every 21 to 35 days when the uterus sheds its lining, signaling the start of a new reproductive cycle.
Periods can last a few days or up to a week. Bleeding might be severe or minor. Teenagers and women approaching menopause typically have lengthier menstrual cycles. At certain ages, menstrual flow may also be heavier.
Causes of Abnormal Vaginal Bleeding
Abnormal vaginal bleeding may be caused by a problem with your reproductive system as well as by other medical conditions or drugs. Causes of abnormal vaginal bleeding include:
- Hormonal Imbalance: Factors that cause an imbalance between estrogen and progesterone levels in the body can result in abnormal vaginal bleeding. These factors include ovarian dysfunction, the use of birth control pills, and intrauterine devices.
- Cancers of the female reproductive system: These can include cancers of the cervix, endometrium (lining of the uterus), ovaries, or fallopian tubes.
- Bleeding disorders: A problem with normal blood clotting can result from an inherited condition such as hemophilia or Von Willebrand Disease; a low red blood cell count (thrombocytopenia); a deficiency of Vitamin K (which helps the body make blood-clotting factors), or as a side effect of medications such as blood thinners.
- Ectopic pregnancy: An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg implants itself in the fallopian tube instead of the uterus.
- Endometrial hyperplasia: The endometrium becomes too thick, usually due to a hormonal imbalance marked by too much estrogen and a lack of progesterone. This condition is not itself cancerous but in some cases can lead to the development of cancer of the uterus.
- Hypothyroidism: An underactive thyroid gland can interrupt normal menstrual cycles.
- Miscarriage: About 15 to 20 percent of pregnancies result in a miscarriage, and most will occur during the first 12 weeks.
- Ovulation problems: A disruption or failure of the ovaries can be due to a disorder of the ovaries themselves, or from a problem in the way the brain is signaling the glands that control ovulation.
- Uterine fibroids: Non-cancerous growths that develop from muscle tissue of the uterus. Their size, number, rate of growth, and location within the uterus can vary greatly.
- Uterine (endometrial) polyps: An overgrowth of cells on the lining of the uterus. Polyps are usually not cancerous but some maybe, or can eventually develop into precancerous polyps.
When To SeeThe Doctor
Whenever you experience any type of abnormal vaginal bleeding, see your doctor. The bleeding could be life-threatening, and it is important to identify the cause. You should make see your doctor straight away if you’re pregnant and you have vaginal bleeding.
Treatment of Abnormal Vaginal Bleeding
The cause of the bleeding determines the treatment modality administered. Treatment options include medication use and surgery. If possible, it is preferable to treat vaginal bleeding first with medications.
Medical options of treatment include:
- Hormonal birth control methods (pills, patch, or vaginal ring)
- Intrauterine device (IUD)
- Gonadotropin-releasing agonists
- Tranexamic acid
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
Surgical options of treatment include:
- Endometrial ablation
- Uterine artery embolization