What is a normal menstrual cycle?
The normal length of the menstrual cycle is typically between 24 days and 38 days. A normal menstrual period generally lasts up to 8 days.
When is bleeding abnormal?
Bleeding in any of the following situations is considered abnormal uterine bleeding:
At what ages is abnormal bleeding more common?
Abnormal bleeding can occur at any age. However, at certain times in a woman’s life it is common for periods to be somewhat irregular. Periods may not occur regularly when a girl first starts having them (around age 9–14 years). During perimenopause (beginning in the mid–40s), the number of days between periods may change. It is also normal to skip periods or for bleeding to get lighter or sustained during perimenopause.
What causes abnormal bleeding?
Some of the causes of abnormal bleeding include the following:
Your obstetrician–gynecologist (ob-gyn) or other health care professional may start by checking for problems most common in your age group. Some of them are not serious and are easy to treat. Others can be more serious. All should be checked.
How is abnormal bleeding diagnosed?
Your ob-gyn or other health care professional will ask about your health history and your menstrual cycle. It may be helpful to keep track of your menstrual cycle before your visit. Note the dates, length, and type (light, medium, heavy, or spotting) of your bleeding on a calendar. You can also use a smartphone app designed to track menstrual cycles.
You will have a physical exam. You may also have blood tests. These tests check your blood count and hormone levels and rule out some diseases of the blood. You also may have a pregnancy test and tests for sexually transmitted
What tests may be needed to diagnose abnormal bleeding?
Based on your symptoms and your age, other tests may be needed. Some of these tests can be done in your ob-gyn’s office. Others may be done at a hospital or surgical center:
What medications are used to help control abnormal bleeding?
Medications often are tried first to treat irregular or heavy menstrual bleeding. The medications that may be used include the following:
What types of surgery are performed to treat abnormal bleeding?
If medication does not reduce your bleeding, a surgical procedure may be needed. There are different types of surgery depending on your condition, your age, and whether you want to have more children.
Endometrial ablation destroys the lining of the uterus. It stops or reduces the total amount of bleeding. Pregnancy is not likely after ablation, but it can happen. If it does, the risk of serious complications, including life-threatening bleeding, is greatly increased. If you have this procedure, you will need to use birth control until after menopause.
Uterine artery embolization is a procedure used to treat fibroids. This procedure blocks the blood vessels to the uterus, which in turn stops the blood flow that fibroids need to grow. Another treatment, myomectomy, removes the fibroids but not the uterus.
Hysterectomy, the surgical removal of the uterus, is used to treat some conditions or when other treatments have failed. Hysterectomy is also used to treat endometrial cancer. After the uterus is removed, a woman can no longer get pregnant and will no longer have periods.
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