What is abnormal uterine bleeding?
Your uterus (womb) normally bleeds during your monthly period. Abnormal uterine bleeding is bleeding that's different from your usual period.
You may have bleeding between periods, a period that lasts longer than usual, heavier bleeding during your period, or bleeding after you've stopped having periods
Abnormal uterine bleeding is usually caused by problems with levels of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone
Less often, abnormal uterine bleeding is caused by growths in the uterus, including fibroids Uterine Fibroids A fibroid is a noncancerous tumor of the uterus that is composed of muscle and fibrous tissue. Uterine fibroids are very common, occurring in approximately 70% of White women and 80% of Black... read more and cancer Cancer of the Uterus The most common type of cancer of the uterus develops in the lining of the uterus (endometrium) and is called endometrial cancer. Endometrial cancer usually affects women after menopause. It... read more
Abnormal uterine bleeding is most common in teens (who have just started having periods) and women over 45 (who are getting closer to menopause Menopause Menopause is when women stop having periods (stop menstruating) and can no longer get pregnant. Menopause usually happens after age 40. In the United States, the average age for menopause is... read more )
Doctors may give you hormones or other medicine to control your bleeding
What causes abnormal uterine bleeding?
Abnormal uterine bleeding is often caused by problems with your female hormone levels. This can happen:
On its own, particularly around puberty and menopause
When you have polycystic ovary syndrome Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) Polycystic ovary syndrome is characterized by irregular or no menstrual periods and often obesity or symptoms caused by high levels of male hormones (androgens), such as excess body hair and... read more or endometriosis Endometriosis In endometriosis, patches of endometrial tissue—normally occurring only in the lining of the uterus (endometrium)—appear outside the uterus. Why endometrial tissue appears outside the uterus... read more
Sometimes, abnormal bleeding is caused by growths in or around your uterus, such as:
What are the symptoms of abnormal uterine bleeding?
In women with abnormal uterine bleeding, bleeding may differ from typical menstrual periods in the following ways:
Occurs more frequently (fewer than 24 days apart)
Varies in how many days it lasts
Lasts longer than 8 days
Occurs between periods or does not occur regularly
Involves more blood loss
Too much bleeding can lead to a low blood count (anemia Anemia Due to Excessive Bleeding Anemia due to excessive bleeding results when loss of red blood cells exceeds production of new red blood cells. When blood loss is rapid, blood pressure falls, and people may be dizzy. When... read more ), which may make you feel weak and tired.
How can doctors tell if I have abnormal uterine bleeding?
Doctors usually do tests to look for disorders that could be causing your bleeding, including:
Blood tests, including a blood count and certain hormone levels
Transvaginal ultrasonography (when doctors place an ultrasound device in your vagina to look at your uterus, ovaries, cervix, and vagina)
If you have risk factors for cancer or if certain abnormalities show up on the ultrasound, your doctor may also do:
Hysteroscopy (looking inside your uterus with a viewing tube)
Biopsy—taking a sample of tissue from the lining of your uterus and looking at it under a microscope
How do doctors treat abnormal uterine bleeding?
First, doctors usually:
Give you medicine to control bleeding, such as birth control pills or various other female hormones, or sometimes NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) or tranexamic acid
If medicine doesn’t stop your abnormal uterine bleeding, doctors may do a procedure such as:
Scraping the lining of your uterus to remove tissue—this is called a D and C (dilation and curettage)
Removing the lining of your uterus by freezing or burning it—this is called endometrial ablation
If the above treatments don’t stop your bleeding or if the tests show cancer, doctors may do surgery to remove your uterus. The surgery is called a hysterectomy.