Abnormal Uterine Bleeding: Causes & Treatments
For many women, a change in their menstrual cycle or period may be cause for concern.
Therefore, it’s important to track and monitor any irregularities and know when to consult an ob-gyn.
So, what’s considered out of the ordinary when it comes to your monthly flow? Here’s what you need to know about the symptoms, causes, and treatments for abnormal uterine bleeding.
What Are the Symptoms of Abnormal Uterine Bleeding?
A cycle that is between 24-and-38 days, and a period that lasts up to 8 days is considered to be within normal limits.
Women should take note if they experience any of the following symptoms, as they suggest abnormal uterine bleeding.
Spotting in between periods or after sex, a heavier or lighter flow, cycle lasting more than 38 days or less than 24 days, change in length of cycle from month to month, and post-menopausal bleeding.
When Are Women More Likely to Experience Changes to Their Cycle and Period?
Abnormal uterine bleeding may be more likely when a girl first starts having her period.
Additionally, irregular periods that may be longer, shorter, heavier, or lighter than usual often occur during perimenopause.
Perimenopause is the stage prior to menopause that can last anywhere between 2 to 8 years.
What Causes Abnormal Uterine Bleeding?
Some of the identifiable causes of abnormal bleeding include: Ovulation issues, fibroids and polyps, endometriosis, birth control pills or devices, miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, and cancer of the reproductive organs.
How Can These Irregularities Be Diagnosed?
To properly evaluate complaints of abnormal uterine bleeding, an ob-gyn will take a complete patient history, perform a physical exam, and order blood work that may include testing for pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
In some cases, additional imaging, including an ultrasound or sonogram, may be required in order to make an accurate diagnosis.
Treating Abnormal Bleeding with Medication and Surgical Procedures
The first line of treatment for most abnormal bleeding is medication. Hormonal birth control pills, antibiotics, and NSAIDS are among the most common prescription and OTC medications that may be recommended.
If medication does not alleviate symptoms or if they become worse, surgery may be necessary.
Surgical intervention aims to repair the cause of the abnormal bleeding and may include the following:
Endometrial ablation to destroy the lining of the uterus, uterine artery embolization to cut off blood supply to fibroids, myomectomy to surgically remove fibroids, and a hysterectomy to surgically remove the uterus.
Your ob-gyn can discuss the benefits, risks, and side effects of each of these treatment options in greater detail.