Understanding Abnormal Bleeding

Most women expect a monthly period and have a fair idea of how heavy the flow should be. So when bleeding happens outside the norm, this is called abnormal uterine bleeding (AUB). Irregular bleeding is unpredictable bleeding from the uterus through the vagina. This could happen during or outside of menstruation. Abnormal bleeding occurs in about 1% of American women. However, as many as 35% of women worldwide may feel some form of the condition.

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Why does abnormal bleeding happen?

There are several reasons for this sudden blood flow. Early pregnancy is a common cause. Spotting or irregular bleeding is a common sign of pregnancy. However, when a woman is pregnant, abnormal bleeding could be a sign of a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy. Besides pregnancy, there are other causes women should know.

Those haywire hormones

Hormonal changes are another common reason for abnormal bleeding. Teens and young women going through hormonal surges may get more bleeding. On the other hand, women nearing menopause are high candidates for abnormal bleeding. Menopausal women using HRT may get periods of abnormal bleeding as well.

Unwanted growths in the uterus

Polyps, little growths on the endometrium, are a common reason. These overgrowths of cells can cause bleeding and need to be removed. Fibroids are non-cancerous growths that form on the walls of the uterus. These can also cause abnormal bleeding. In rare cases, bleeding can be an early sign of cancer.

Diagnosing abnormal bleeding

The doctor’s approach to abnormal bleeding depends on the source of the bleeding. The doctor will perform a pregnancy test to rule out pregnancy. Afterward, the doctor may do an endometrial biopsy. The endometrial biopsy is a procedure to remove a small piece of tissue from the endometrium. The doctor will pass the tissue sample over to a lab for review. This helps the doctor diagnose and rule out diseases causing abnormal bleeding.

Preparing for the biopsy

Before the biopsy, the clinic will need detailed medical information about the patient. This includes medication, supplements, allergies, or pre-existing conditions. The patient must advise the doctor about pregnancy, though this will be checked before the exam. The biopsy must not be done while the patient is pregnant. On the day of the exam, the doctor gives pain medication or a sedative since the test can be uncomfortable.

Done before you know it

The procedure takes about 15 minutes. The doctor will place the patient in stirrups. Then, using a catheter, the doctor removes a small piece of endometrium tissue. This tissue is secured and sent to a lab for testing. Afterward, the patient can change and go home with assistance. After 1-2 weeks, the doctor receives the results from the lab.

Treat abnormal bleeding seriously

Once the doctor confirms the source of the issue, a treatment plan can be put in place. Treatments can range from birth control to lifestyle changes. In some severe cases, the doctor may suggest a hysterectomy or endometrial ablation. There are several reasons for irregular bleeding. An endometrial biopsy can help narrow down the cause. Take any signs of abnormal bleeding seriously and visit a doctor right away.

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