What is Abnormal Uterine Bleeding?
Abnormal uterine bleeding is any heavy, unusual, or prolonged bleeding from your uterus. It can occur at any time during your monthly menstrual cycle, between your monthly periods, or can be characterized by an extremely heavy or prolonged period. If you’ve experienced any of these symptoms, please reach out to the staff at Associates in Women’s Health for a consultation.
Symptoms of Abnormal Uterine Bleeding
The most commonly reported symptoms of abnormal uterine bleeding are periods which are too heavy or too long, or bleeding outside of your normal menstrual cycle. This could include any of the following:
- Very heavy menstrual bleeding
- Bleeding that lasts for more than seven consecutive days
- Spotting or bleeding between your periods
- Uterine bleeding that occurs less than 21 days from the start of your last cycle
- The presence of several clots or large sized clots
Some women can experience additional symptoms which occur with their abnormal uterine bleeding, such as pelvic pain or pressure, excessive bloating, or the presence of a lump or mass in the lower abdomen. You should see a medical professional if you experience abnormal uterine bleeding accompanied by one or more of the following symptoms:
- Dizziness or loss of equilibrium
- Pale skin
- Rapid heart rate
- Low blood pressure
- Passing large clots
- Soaking through one or more tampons and/or pads every hour
If you are currently taking any medication (including birth control), be sure to mention this to your doctor and bring it with you to your appointment to determine the best method of abnormal uterine bleeding treatment for you.
Causes and Evaluation of Abnormal Uterine Bleeding
There are several things that can cause abnormal uterine bleeding, including changes or imbalances in your hormone levels, some types of birth control, pregnancy, polyps, fibroid tumors, endometriosis, adenomyosis, hormone replacement therapy, and other medical conditions.
Your doctor may recommend doing certain blood tests to check your hormone levels, to determine if your ovaries are working correctly, and to measure your red blood cell count. A low red blood cell count could indicate the presence of anemia and/or an iron deficiency, which are common side effects of heavy bleeding and chronic blood loss.
An ultrasound exam of your pelvis is another diagnostic measure your doctor is likely to perform. This exam gives the doctor a picture of both your uterus and your ovaries. From this picture your doctor can determine the size, shape, and condition of your uterus and ovaries, detect the presence of any abnormal growths, and possibly discover the cause of your abnormal uterine bleeding.
Sometimes, an endometrial biopsy is also performed. This involves passing a small plastic catheter into the uterus through the cervix to obtain a small sample of the uterine lining. This sample can then be examined under a microscope to better understand why you are bleeding and to look for evidence of cancer or polyps.
Abnormal Uterine Bleeding Treatment
There are many effective treatments available for abnormal uterine bleeding. The most effective treatment for you will depend on your age, the cause of your bleeding, your overall health, and whether you want to get pregnant in the future.
The use of hormones like those found in birth control pills is an option for many women. The pill contains hormones that can stop the lining of your uterus from getting too thick. Birth control pills can also help reduce the length of your menstrual cycle, keep your menstrual cycle regular, reduce blood flow, and reduce cramping.
Another very effective option is to use an intrauterine device (IUD) to help control your abnormal uterine bleeding. An IUD is a small, plastic birth control device that your doctor inserts into your uterus through your vagina. Some of these IUD’s release hormones, which can significantly reduce or eliminate abnormal uterine bleeding.
For many women, surgery may be a better option to treat their abnormal uterine bleeding. Women who have finished childbearing or who have had their tubes tied may prefer to have surgery to permanently eliminate their bleeding rather than use medication to control it. Likewise, for women where hormonal therapy has been ineffective or poorly tolerated, surgery is likely to be a better choice.
Endometrial ablation is a procedure used primarily to treat excessively heavy periods. With an ablation, an instrument is passed into the uterus through the cervix and used to permanently destroy the uterine lining. Pregnancy is not possible after an ablation. This procedure requires no incisions and is done on an outpatient basis. Most patients can return to their normal activities the following day.
Hysterectomy refers to the surgical removal of the uterus. Hysterectomy permanently cures all types of abnormal uterine bleeding. It is typically performed either laparoscopically or vaginally. Many patients will go home the same day the surgery is performed; others will stay overnight and go home the following day. Total recovery time is typically 2–4 weeks. If the ovaries are not removed, having a hysterectomy will not cause a woman to go into menopause.
Although abnormal uterine bleeding may not represent a life or death situation for you, it is a treatable medical condition that, once remedied, can increase your enjoyment of life and improve your overall health and wellness.
Let us help you achieve your best health. Contact Associates in Women’s Health today to discuss if what you are experiencing could be symptoms of abnormal uterine bleeding. Call us at (307) 682-4664 to schedule your confidential appointment or consultation.