Vaginal bleeding can be described as the bleeding that happens from the vagina. Its origin can be the cervix, uterus, or vagina itself. Normal vaginal bleeding is the regular blood flow from the uterus and is also known as menorrhea. This is what happens in menstruation. However, there are cases of abnormal vaginal bleeding that are to be discussed here. The abnormal vaginal bleeding occurs beyond a woman’s menstrual cycle or shows some extreme symptoms at the time when they are on their periods. The irregular bleeding occurs either at the wrong time during the month or in inappropriate amounts, unlike what happens typically during a woman’s monthly menstrual cycle. The symptoms can be caused by several abnormal conditions, including hormonal imbalances, infection, complications arising during pregnancy, trauma, and malignancy.
About Vaginal Bleeding and Its Types.
Some of the most frequently used terms and types associated with vaginal bleeding are as follows:
- Menstrual bleeding, or normal bleeding, occurs during a normal menstrual cycle because of cyclic changes in the hormones. The time during which menstruation happens is called menses, and they occur at intervals of around four weeks (or 28 days), representing the menstrual cycle.
- Dysfunctional uterine bleeding, a term commonly used to refer to abnormal vaginal bleeding, is outside of the menstrual cycle.
- Next is Menorrhagia, a term used by doctors to describe a woman’s condition when she has excessive bleeding during her menstrual period. The menstrual bleeding period can be long, lasting for more than seven days, and can also result in causing the woman to pass blood clots of a comparatively larger than average size.
- The fourth type is Oligomenorrhea. Here, menstruation occurs more than 35 days after the last occurrence of the menstrual period. On average, if a woman has less than ten periods in a year, she may suffer from this disease.
- In Polymenorrhea, menstruation occurs within 21 days after the last menstrual period. In other words, if a woman has more than 12 periods in a year, it may be a case of Polymenorrhea.
Symptoms leading to Vaginal Bleeding
It should be taken into account that there are other symptoms that may take place with vaginal bleeding. These symptoms might differ depending upon the underlying diseases or disorders or even conditions that she might have. Some of the common signs that might occur in vaginal bleeding are listed below.
- Fever, severe lower back pain, and feeling nauseous are associated symptoms of vaginal bleeding and may be an initial indication.
- Complex bowel movements are noticed in some cases.
- Having pain during sexual intercourse might also be a symptom.
- Cramping of the pelvis, irritability, and water weight gain during menstrual periods.
- Spotting outside of the menstrual cycle, abnormal vaginal discharge, and pain while peeing.
When should a Woman Visit a Doctor?
There are certain cases or times when vaginal bleeding is the reason for some serious medical condition or caused by one. This can be anemia, miscarriage, pelvic inflammation, or even as serious as uterine cancer. Here is a list of symptoms that warrant an appointment with the doctor as soon as possible.
- Pain in the abdomen or the pelvic area.
- Longer, heavier menstrual spells.
- Unusual vaginal bleeding.
- If a woman has already had her menopause but is still experiencing vaginal bleeding.
Now, there are some extreme cases as well where medical care should be received immediately, and they are:
- Dizziness or the tendency to faint.
- Very high fever- around 101 degrees or even more.
- Excruciating pain in the abdomen or pelvic area.
- Vaginal bleeding during pregnancy.
Causes for Abnormal Bleeding
As previously discussed, any bleeding outside a woman’s regular menstrual cycle is considered abnormal bleeding. Various reasons can cause this, and some of them are discussed below.
- Hormonal Imbalance: The two hormones that regulate a woman’s menstrual cycle are Estrogen and Progesterone. Spotting or light and irregular bleeding occur when these hormones get out of balance due to dysfunctional ovaries or thyroid gland problems, or birth control pills.
- Complications during pregnancy: Both miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy (when a fertilized egg gets attached to the fallopian tube instead of the uterus) can be a factor for abnormal bleeding. During normal pregnancy, having spotting does not usually mean miscarriage. However, having vaginal bleeding should be treated as a serious matter, and a doctor should be immediately contacted.
- Uterine Fibroids: Uterine fibroids are nothing but noncancerous growth that happens in the uterus. They are very common in women who have just given birth.
- Infection: Infection present in the reproductive organs can also cause inflammation and bleeding.
- Cancer: Cancer may be one of the causes behind vaginal bleeding. Any one of the organs among the cervix, vagina, uterus, and ovaries could be affected and might need immediate treatment.
Diagnostic methods for abnormal vaginal bleeding
After a doctor has confirmed the symptoms from a woman, she is likely to be suggested a physical examination and sometimes a pregnancy test. Doctors also use the following methods for the diagnosis of vaginal bleeding:
- Blood test: A blood test can help identify whether there is a problem in hormonal imbalance or a woman is suffering from any chronic disease.
- Ultrasound: This helps get the pictures of a woman’s uterus, and the doctor can look for fibroids or polyps.
- Biopsy: The doctor might examine a small piece of tissue under the telescope for abnormal cells.
- Hysteroscopy: The doctor might look into a woman’s uterus with a small lighted scope put in through the cervix.
Treatment For Abnormal Vaginal Bleeding
The treatment for irregular vaginal bleeding depends on what causes it to happen. Only a doctor decides what treatment is needed or if any treatment is necessary at all.
Some treatment options prescribed by doctors are as follows:
- Birth control pills and other hormonal treatments to ensure the menstrual cycle is regularized.
- Anti-inflammatories such as Ibuprofen or Naproxen a few days before the menstrual spell may be advised for lighter bleeding.
- Pills called Tranexamic acid helps in blood clotting and controls heavy uterine bleeding.
- For some women, IUD that releases a hormone called progestin stops heavy bleeding, and after using this, she doesn’t get a period at all. In severe cases, surgeries are also needed to stop the bleeding.
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As we have seen in the article, vaginal bleeding can be both normal and abnormal. While normal bleeding occurs during a woman’s menstrual cycle, it is the abnormal vaginal bleeding that makes her worry. While there are easily treatable causes, there are others, such as vaginal dryness and cervical dysplasia. Treatment of vaginal bleeding, as discussed, is associated with individual cases depending on their symptoms and their severity, underlying causes, and the presence of any complications. There is absolutely nothing to worry about about these types of symptoms as all of the diseases are very much treatable if they are promptly diagnosed in time. So, if anyone encounters unexpected vaginal bleeding, seeking healthcare professional help is advisable.
Frequently Asked Questions
What causes abnormal vaginal bleeding during pregnancy?
Researches show that around 20% to 30% of women experience bleeding during pregnancy. They are common in cases where a woman is carrying twins or more.
What can be the reason behind abnormal vaginal bleedings in women who ovulate regularly?
The types of abnormal bleeding include excessive, frequent, irregular, and decreased bleeding.
- Excessive menstrual bleeding is a condition called Menorrhagia that can cause stress and severe cramping, among others.
- Irregular or frequent menstrual bleeding is a condition of Polymenorrhea and is often caused by STDs.
- Menstrual cycles at irregular intervals happen due to a condition of Metrorrhagia and can be caused due to infections in the uterus or birth control pills.
- A decrease in the menstrual flow is a condition of hypomenorrhea. It is caused by overactive thyroid function or kidney diseases.