Have you experienced unusual vaginal or menstrual bleeding? Abnormal uterine bleeding or AUB is generally defined as heavier or more frequent menstrual bleeding, and can be a sign of many possible health concerns. Knowing the warning signs and when to see your Chattanooga gynecologist regarding AUB can ensure you get the medical treatment you need.
Recognizing Abnormal Uterine Bleeding
It is not uncommon for most women to experience AUB at some point in their life. In many cases, AUB stops as quickly as it starts without a need for medical treatment. However, any abnormal bleeding should be a cause for concern and warrant a visit to your doctor or OB/GYN. Here are some of the signs of AUB that should alert you that it is time to schedule an appointment with your physician:
- Spotting or bleeding between periods. Menstrual periods are normally between 21 and 35 days apart. Bleeding more frequently than every 21 days is a sign of AUB. Lack of any periods for over three months before menopause is also abnormal, unless you are pregnant. Bleeding after sex or after menopause are also signs of AUB.
- Heavier bleeding than normal. Although menstrual period flow changes through a women’s life, extremely heavy bleeding is abnormal. Soaking through a tampon in an hour or a pad in two hours can be a sign of AUB.
- Longer periods.Periods lasting longer than seven days may be a sign of AUB.
If you have any of these signs of AUB, schedule an appointment with your doctor. Together you can begin uncovering the cause for this change in your menstrual bleeding.
Common Causes and Treatment of AUB
There are several possible causes for AUB, from medical conditions to side effects of certain birth control methods. In some cases, the cause cannot be found. However, it is important to seek medical advice to ensure that the cause is not something that could jeopardize your health. Some of the common causes of AUB that your doctor will want to consider include:
- Pregnancy. A normal pregnancy can cause AUB. So can an ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage.
- Birth control. Problems with an IUD or side effects from other contraceptive methods can cause AUB.
- Bleeding disorders. Some blood diseases that cause clotting issues can lead to AUB.
- Reproductive organs. The cause of abnormal bleeding may be reproductive issues such as fibroids, polyps, infections, endometrial hyperplasia or adenomyosis.
- Cancer. In rare instances, AUB can be a sign of cancer of the uterus, vagina or cervix.
Determining the cause of your abnormal uterine bleeding is the first step to receiving the right treatment. The most likely causes will first need to be eliminated, such as pregnancy, blood disorders or issues with your contraceptive. If the cause may be a physical or medical problem, your doctor may want to look closer at your uterus and other reproductive organs for abnormalities. This can be done using ultrasound, hysteroscopy, sonohysteroscopy or endometrial biopsy.
Treatment for AUB is determined by the cause. It could be treated with something as simple as changing your birth control method or with hormonal medications. If there is a medical condition that is causing the bleeding such as cancer, polyps or one of the other disorders, your doctor can discuss treatment options for those disorders. Surgery may be recommended for removing polyps or fibroids. In severe cases, a hysterectomy or endometrial ablation may be recommended. The treatment may be different for those who still want the option to conceive versus those who no longer wish to become pregnant.
Abnormal uterine bleeding should always be taken seriously, as it could be a sign of a problem with your health. In most cases, the cause is something that can be easily and quickly remedied. However, for the rare cases that it is a symptom of a serious medical condition, it is critical to begin treatment as quickly as possible.
To schedule an appointment, call our offices to schedule your appointment today with an experienced Chattanooga gynecologist.