What’s Considered Abnormal?

Typically, women experience a menstrual cycle with a length of 24-38 days. Sometimes, however, periods will be longer or shorter, with bleeding in between cycles or a complete stop of menstruation. Irregular bleeding occurs when a woman’s periods are so inconsistent as to be not even somewhat predictable. Consider these 3 signs that women should ask a doctor about abnormal uterine bleeding (AUB).

my texas health care obgyn What Counts As Irregular Bleeding 3 Signs Its Time To Ask Your Doctor About AUB

1. You’re experiencing excessive blood loss

Usually, women lose about 2 tablespoons of blood per cycle. A little more than this is still considered normal, but anything over 5 tablespoons can be a cause for concern. However, women are likely not measuring blood loss in tablespoons. Another useful measurement to watch is how often a woman is bleeding through a tampon or pad. If the tampon or pad has to be changed every hour, this could indicate an underlying condition like uterine fibroids or polyps.

2. You bleed or spot after sex

Besides menstrual cycle irregularity, abnormal bleeding can refer to bleeding at irregular times, such as after sex. Bleeding after sex affects almost 1 in 10 women. Usually, the cause is cervical inflammation, which is often a result of a sexually transmitted infection. However, bleeding after sex can also be caused by cervical polyps.

3. You get no period at all

Amenorrhea, or not getting a period at all, is not normal. Besides getting pregnant, loss of the menstrual cycle can be the result of over-exercising or being underweight. The condition can also be the result of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

Treatment options

Treatment for AUB typically starts with ruling out or treating any underlying health conditions. These might include PCOS, fibroids, or endometriosis. Women who are not trying to get pregnant may benefit from hormonal birth control, such as taking the pill or getting an intrauterine device (IUD). Specific lifestyle choices, such as exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy weight, may also help.

Preparing for your doctor’s appointment

To get the most out of the visit with the healthcare provider, make a list of all symptoms. Women should keep records of the menstrual cycle, including when menstruation begins, how long periods last, and how heavy bleeding is. The healthcare provider may order hormonal tests or may take a small sample of tissue from the cervix or uterine lining for additional testing. Because there are so many causes of AUB, women who have irregular periods should make an appointment with an OB/GYN. These healthcare providers can help get to the root cause of the issue and provide treatment options.

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