Abnormal Vaginal Bleeding

Abnormal vaginal bleeding at a glance

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding is bleeding from the vagina unrelated to a woman’s normal menstrual cycle.
  • Gynecologic issues, a change in medication or certain cancers of the reproductive system can cause abnormal vaginal bleeding.
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding may also indicate a fertility issue.
  • Women experiencing abnormal vaginal bleeding should schedule an appointment with a doctor, such as a reproductive endocrinologist, who specializes in reproductive issues.

What is abnormal vaginal bleeding?

Abnormal vaginal bleeding is any bleeding unrelated to the monthly menstrual cycle, or unusually heavy bleeding during the menstrual cycle.

Each month a woman’s body prepares for pregnancy by thickening the uterine lining. If a woman does not become pregnant, the uterine lining breaks down and sheds, which is the menstrual period. Light spotting may occur mid-cycle, as this is the time ovulation occurs.

Contrary to popular belief, heavy bleeding during a woman’s period does not correlate with a thick uterine lining and light bleeding does not correlate with a thin uterine lining. Most of the discharge during menstruation consists of blood, with only a small part of it being uterine lining tissue.

Abnormal vaginal bleeding in pre-menopausal women may indicate a problem with fertility. Certain causes of abnormal bleeding, such as endometriosis and uterine fibroids, can inhibit efforts to become pregnant.

After menopause, which is the natural, physiological end of a woman’s fertility around age 50, vaginal bleeding may indicate reproductive cancer. If this is present, a woman should seek immediate medical advice from her gynecologist.

What causes abnormal vaginal bleeding?

Abnormal vaginal bleeding is commonly caused by a gynecologic issue or a change in certain medications, such as hormonal birth control pills. Medical conditions that can contribute to abnormal vaginal bleeding include:

  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
  • Endometriosis
  • Uterine fibroids
  • Uterine polyps
  • Miscarriage
  • Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
  • Reproductive cancers.

What are the symptoms of abnormal vaginal bleeding?

Common symptoms of abnormal vaginal bleeding include:

  • Spotting between periods, unrelated to ovulation
  • Extremely heavy period bleeding, often characterized by soaking a pad or tampon every hour for two or more hours
  • Bleeding after menopause
  • Bleeding during pregnancy.

What is the treatment for abnormal vaginal bleeding?

The treatment for abnormal vaginal bleeding begins by seeing a doctor. Because there are so many different causes of abnormal bleeding, only a doctor can diagnose the exact cause and set a treatment plan.

Treatments for abnormal vaginal bleeding include medication and surgery. A reproductive endocrinologist can surgically treat abnormal bleeding caused by the following conditions of the reproductive system.