Abnormal Uterine Bleeding
Abnormal uterine bleeding, also known as Dysfunctional uterine bleeding, is bleeding from the uterus (or womb) in patterns that are not associated with a normal period.
Symptoms of Abnormal uterine bleeding include:
- Bleeding or spotting between periods
- Bleeding after sex
- Heavy bleeding which lasts for more than 7 days in the menstrual cycle
- Bleeding after menopause
Causes of abnormal uterine bleeding include:
- Endometrial/uterine polyp
- Hormonal imbalances
- Ectopic pregnancy
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
- Cancer of the uterus, cervix or vagina
- Use of birth control measures such as oral pills or intrauterine device (IUD)
Abnormal uterine bleeding can occur at any age in a women’s life.
Your doctor will diagnose the underlying cause of the condition by taking a medical and family history and performing a physical examination, including a pelvic exam. They may arrange additional tests to rule out other causes of abnormal bleeding. These tests include:
- Pregnancy test: To confirm whether you are pregnant.
- Blood count: To rule out blood disorders.
- Pelvic ultrasound: It is an advanced imaging test that uses high-frequency sound waves to create pictures of the female pelvic organs (uterus and ovaries).
- Endometrial biopsy: It is a procedure that involves sampling the cells lining the uterus (endometrium) for any abnormalities.
- Hysteroscopy: A minor surgical procedure used for diagnosis and/or treatment of various conditions of the uterus. A thin camera called a hysteroscope is inserted into the uterus through the vagina to view the internal structures. Dilatation and curettage (D&C) is performed at the same time and this is a surgical procedure in which the cervix is expanded with a dilator and the tissue lining the uterus (endometrium) is scraped with a curette for assessment by the pathologist. Some conditions, such as polyps, can be treated at the same time.
The treatment plan depends on a number of factors such as your age, cause of bleeding, and whether you are planning to become pregnant. The treatment options include:
- Birth control pills help to maintain regular periods.
- IUD that releases hormones: IUD is a birth control device that is inserted in the uterus. Abnormal bleeding may be controlled through the release of hormones
- Endometrial ablation: A procedure in which the tissue lining the uterus is destroyed by various ablation techniques such as heating.
- Hysterectomy: the surgical removal of the entire uterus. This procedure will stop periods and is not suggested for women who wish to have children.