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Heavy Vaginal Bleeding. What’s Going On?

Abnormal vaginal bleeding is a flow of blood from the vagina that occurs either at the wrong time during the month or in inappropriate amounts. In order to determine whether bleeding is abnormal, and its cause, the doctor must consider three questions: Are you pregnant? What is the pattern of your bleeding? Are you ovulating regularly or not.

Much of the abnormal vaginal bleeding during pregnancy occurs so early in the pregnancy that the woman doesn’t realize she is pregnant. Therefore, irregular bleeding that is new may be a sign of very early pregnancy, even before a woman is aware of her condition. Vaginal bleeding during pregnancy can also be associated with complications of pregnancy, such as miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy. I’ll cover this topic more in a future article.

Heavy, excessive, or frequent bleeding (menorrhagia) needs to be evaluated due to risk of anemia, which can lead to dizziness and fainting. But abnormal bleeding, sometimes not heavy at all, can also just interfere with life, and cause emotional distress or severe cramping.

Benign (noncancerous) causes of heavy or frequent bleeding include:

Though not common, menorrhagia can be a sign of endometrial cancer. A potentially precancerous condition known as endometrial hyperplasia can also result in abnormal vaginal bleeding. This situation is more frequent in women who are over the age of 40.

Although there are many causes of menorrhagia, in many women, the specific cause of menorrhagia is not found even after a full medical evaluation. These women are said to have dysfunctional uterine bleeding. Although no specific cause of the abnormal vaginal bleeding is found in women with dysfunctional uterine bleeding, there are treatments available to reduce the severity of the condition.

What tests do you need then? Pelvic exam, pap smear if overdue, cultures for infection, blood work to check hormones and blood levels, and an ultrasound are usually needed to figure out what’s going on.

Treatments to stop this problem range from stress relief, weight loss, antibiotics, hormones, to surgery. Hormones could be something as mild as a progesterone cream to possibly a birth control pill. Surgery does not necessarily mean major surgery. If the problem is a small one, then small surgery may be needed. Keep in mind that the treatment options always depend on the patient, where she’s coming from, her age, other health conditions, whether she wants to get pregnant or she’s done with child bearing.

So give us a call if you are having bleeding issues. Don’t be afraid. You don’t have to live with this problem. We can help.