Irregular bleeding, or abnormal uterine bleeding, has many causes. They include hormonal imbalances, pregnancy-related complications, uterine growths and medication side effects. Bleeding is considered abnormal if it occurs in between periods or after sex, if it is heavier than normal or more prolonged, or if it occurs after menopause.
Irregular bleeding is nothing to ignore. If left untreated, it can lead to infertility, anemia due to blood loss and increased risk of endometrial cancer.
For most women, especially teenagers or those approaching menopause, irregular bleeding is caused by a hormone imbalance. When hormones are the problem, doctors call the problem dysfunctional uterine bleeding, or DUB. Polyps or fibroids that develop in the uterus can also cause bleeding. In some cases, irregular bleeding can be a sign of a thyroid problem, infection of the cervix or even cancer of the uterus.
It is important to monitor the frequency and amount of bleeding you are experiencing. Vaginal bleeding that occurs more often than every 3 weeks or farther apart than every 5 weeks is thought to be irregular. The same can be said for vaginal bleeding that lasts longer than 7 days. If you are passing blood clots or soaking through your usual pads or tampons each hour for 2 or more hours, bleeding may be considered severe.
Birth control pills
Birth control pills contain hormones that can stop the lining of your uterus from getting too thick. Birth control pills can also help keep your menstrual cycle regular and reduce cramping. However, although rare, certain types of birth control pills can cause abnormal bleeding for some women. One of our Gynecology Associates of Gwinnett associates can help determine if birth control pills are the right choice for you.
Intrauterine device (IUD)
An IUD is a small, plastic device one of our providers inserts into your uterus through your vagina to block the fertilization of eggs. Certain kinds of IUD’s release hormones that can significantly reduce irregular bleeding. Like birth control pills, some IUD’s may cause abnormal bleeding so we will work together to choose the correct course of action.
A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure that removes the uterus. After a hysterectomy procedure, you won’t have any more periods and you won’t be able to get pregnant. Hysterectomy is a major surgery that occasionally requires general anesthesia and a hospital stay as well as downtime for recovery. Because a hysterectomy removes the uterus, and in some cases the ovaries and cervix, it is important that we together discuss all of your options before opting for surgery.
Endometrial ablation is a surgical procedure that destroys the lining of the uterus. Endometrial ablation may stop all menstrual bleeding in some women. However, it’s not unusual for some women to experience light bleeding or spotting after the procedure. It’s also not uncommon for women to have regular menstrual periods after the procedure. Women who have an endometrial ablation should still use some form of birth control even though pregnancy after the procedure is unlikely.
Irregular bleeding is more of an annoyance than a health risk, but it could be a sign of a serious medical problem. Therefore, an evaluation by an experienced and board-certified gynecologist is important. If you have any questions or would like to request an appointment, please contact Gynecology Associates of Gwinnett today. You can also follow us on Facebook today.