How Do I Know When Menstrual Bleeding is Abnormal?
You may be experiencing abnormal uterine bleeding if you're change pads or tampons more often than every one or two hours, or having a period that lasts over seven days.
While it sounds unlikely, abnormal uterine bleeding is also used to describe amenorrhea or absence of menstruation.
Uterine bleeding is always abnormal when:
- Bleeding occurs between periods
- Bleeding occurs following sex
- Spotting occurs at anytime during the menstrual cycle
- Bleeding is heavier than normal or lasts for more days than usual
- Bleeding occurs after menopause
What Causes Abnormal Uterine Bleeding?
Abnormal uterine bleeding, or heavy menstruation, which is called menorrhagia by the medical community, is usually the result of a hormonal imbalance in adolescents during the years following the onset of menstruation, or in women who are approaching menopause. Menstruation is often irregular or heavy during these times because, depending on hormonal levels, the ovaries may or may not release an egg. Another common cause of abnormal uterine bleeding is fibroid tumors. Other causes of excessive bleeding that your healthcare provider should consider include:
- cervical or endometrial polyps
- pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
- cervical cancer
- endometrial cancer
Women using intrauterine devices (IUDs) for birth control, may also experience excessive or prolonged periods. If you experience excessive uterine bleeding while using an IUD, the IUD should be removed and replaced with an alternative birth control method.
Usually detected soon after menstruation begins, platelet disorders are the most common blood disorder which causes excessive bleeding; the most common platelet disorder is von Willebrand's disease. Women with von Willebrand's disease commonly will experience not only heavy menstrual bleeding, but nosebleeds, easy bruising, and blood in the stool.