Although it’s not often talked about, abnormal uterine bleeding is a common condition among reproductive-age women. In fact, about five percent of women ages 18-50 are affected per year. This number is likely even higher since the condition is often not reported.
Abnormal uterine bleeding is an all-encompassing term to describe bleeding between periods, a prolonged period or a heavy period. There are many causes and more than one cause may be present at a time. These include structural abnormalities in the uterus, such as polyps or fibroids; uterine or cervical cancer; taking blood thinner medication; platelet dysfunction; early pregnancy and hormonal changes.
- A heavy menstrual period – This is somewhat subjective, but generally a period is considered heavy when it interferes with a woman’s physical, emotional or social health.
- A short or long menstrual cycle – Your period should be regular and predictable. Having a cycle that is shorter than 24 days or longer than 38 days may indicate a problem.
- Bleeding between periods – This may include spotting or bleeding after sex.
- A prolonged period – Most periods last four to seven days. If your period lasts more than seven days, it could be a sign something isn’t right.
If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s time to see your doctor. He or she will diagnose the condition based on your medical history and a physical examination. Your doctor may also order blood work, an ultrasound or another imaging study to get more information.
Treatment options vary depending on what’s causing your bleeding. Medication is usually the first line of treatment because it is the most conservative approach. If medication is not successful in stopping the bleeding, surgery may be an option.
Edward-Elmhurst Health offers a variety of options to treat abnormal uterine bleeding, including medication and minimally invasive surgeries, such as hysteroscopy, endometrial ablation and robotic-assisted hysterectomy. Our comprehensive approach to care will help you learn what’s causing your bleeding and find a treatment option that allows you to get back to your daily activities.