​Abnormal uterine bleeding

Abnormal uterine bleeding can significantly impact your quality of life. It can be related to a number of conditions including problems with the uterus, hormone problems, or other conditions.

A normal menstrual cycle is typically between 24 and 38 days, with the average menstrual cycle lasting 28 days. The cycle starts with the first day of one period and ends with the first day of the next period. When you are experiencing excessive bleeding or menstrual cycles that last longer than 38 days or shorter than 24 days, it can take an emotional and physical toll and be a cause for concern.

When abnormal uterine bleeding interferes in your life and health, the experts at The Christ Hospital Health Network have the experience and skill to diagnose and treat you so you can get back to good health.

Although abnormal uterine bleeding can occur at any age, it is most common when you are young, 9 to 14 years of age, or during perimenopause—usually beginning in your mid-40s.

Abnormal uterine bleeding causes

Abnormal uterine bleeding can be caused by many different factors. At your appointment, your doctor will take a family history and a history of your menstrual cycles to help pinpoint the cause of your bleeding.

Although sometimes there is no identifiable cause for abnormal bleeding, common causes, include:

  • Bleeding disorders—that impair blood clotting and may lead to heavy bleeding and longer periods

  • Certain medications—especially anticoagulants to prevent blood clotting and anti-inflammatories

  • Certain types of cancer—although rarely the cause, reproductive cancers like uterine cancer, ovarian cancer and cervical cancer can cause irregular uterine bleeding

  • Hormone imbalance—like estrogen and progesterone and PCOS

  • Ectopic pregnancy—when the fertilized egg attaches itself in a place other than inside the uterus

  • Fibroids—tumors that grow in or around the uterus

  • Infection of the uterus or cervix

  • Miscarriage—the loss of a pregnancy in the first 20 weeks

  • Polyps—uterine growths that cause heavier, longer or irregular periods

  • Problems with ovulation—when the ovaries don’t produce, mature or release eggs 

Abnormal uterine bleeding risk factors

There are just a few factors that can increase your risk for having abnormal uterine bleeding, including:

  • Age—more common in teens and women entering perimenopause

  • Weight—excess weight can increase your likelihood of having abnormal bleeding

Abnormal uterine bleeding symptoms

When you visit your doctor to discuss your abnormal bleeding, know your detailed menstrual cycle history and any family history of abnormal bleeding.

Common symptoms of abnormal uterine bleeding include:

  • Bleeding after menopause 

  • Bleeding or spotting after sex

  • Bleeding or spotting between periods

  • Heavy bleeding during your period

  • Menstrual periods shorter than 24 days or longer than 38 days

When to see a doctor

Many women question if what they are experiencing is considered normal and may put off seeing a doctor about symptoms. 

If you have noticed any of these changes, it is time to make an appointment with your doctor: 

  • Changing sanitary protection at night or soaking protection every one-to-two hours during the day

  • Constant pain or cramping in the lower abdomen during a menstrual period

  • Heavy menstrual flow that interferes with regular lifestyle 

  • Menstrual flow that has large blood clots 

  • Need to use double sanitary protection

Do you think you have abnormal uterine bleeding? Discuss your concerns with your gynecologist or make an appointment with one of our Women’s Health experts.

Do you have more questions about abnormal bleeding but not yet ready to make an appointment with a doctor? Contact our ezCare Concierge nurse navigator, a free, confidential service designed to help you navigate the best next steps for you and your health.