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Abnormal Uterine Bleeding – What Every Woman Should Know

Author: Namita Kothari, M.D., FACOG

Each year, more than 10 million women go to their gynecologist (or primary health care provider) for abnormal bleeding issues. While abnormal bleeding can be serious, it isn’t always cause for alarm. It’s common for women to experience some bleeding or spotting between periods from time to time. This type of bleeding could be caused by a hormonal imbalance or relatively minor health problems, and is not always an indication of a serious health issue. If the dysfunctional uterine bleeding is frequent, then it may be time to visit your gynecologist.

What Is Abnormal Uterine Bleeding?

So, what’s the difference between occasional light spotting and “abnormal uterine bleeding” (AUB)? The American College of Obstetricians defines AUB as:

  • Bleeding between periods
  • Bleeding after sex
  • Spotting anytime in the menstrual cycle
  • Bleeding heavier or for more days than normal
  • Bleeding after menopause

Menstrual cycles that are longer than 35 days or shorter than 21 days are abnormal. The lack of periods for 3-6 months (amenorrhea) also is abnormal.

In other words, there is no “light spotting.” Any kind of unusual bleeding should be treated as abnormal uterine bleeding.

What Causes Abnormal Uterine Bleeding?

Typically, dysfunctional uterine bleeding occurs when the ovaries fail to release an egg. This can alter your body’s hormone levels and cause your period to be later, earlier, or heavier than normal. In some cases, abnormal uterine bleeding is caused by uterine fibroids, cancer, miscarriage, or blood clotting. However, these causes are much less common. In some cases, the cause of bleeding may be indeterminable.

How Is Abnormal Uterine Bleeding Treated?

Once the cause of your dysfunctional uterine bleeding is determined, your East Valley gynecologist will be able to suggest a treatment option. Some types of bleeding may be controlled through medication.

  • Hormonal methods, such as birth control pills, can be use to regulate the periods and steady the hormonal levels.
  • There are other non-surgical ways to control periods such as a hormonal IUD, which can be used to reduce heavy flow. Depending on the reason for abnormal bleeding, several treatment options exist.
  • In appropriate cases, doing an outpatient procedure like endometrial ablation to stop heavy flow can be a treatment of choice.
  • Last but not least, hysterectomy is the definitive treatment in select populations.

Schedule With a Gynecologist In Mesa or Tempe, AZ

If you’re experiencing vaginal bleeding, contact your gynecologist for an evaluation. If you do not have a gynecologist that you see regularly, contact East Valley Women’s Medical Group to schedule an appointment with a gynecologist in Tempe or Mesa, AZ. You can learn more about gynecologic health issues treated at East Valley Women’s Medical Group by visiting this page.
Please consult with your physician before undertaking any form of medical treatment or adopting any exercise program or dietary guidelines.

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