Abnormal Vaginal Bleeding

Most of us do have bouts of abnormal vaginal bleeding or spotting between periods. This is normal and may happen anytime before we reach menopause. (Reference: University of Michigan)

But vaginal bleeding is deemed to be abnormal if it occurs:-

  • when you are not expecting your normal menstrual flow
  • when your menstrual flow is lighter or heavier than what you normally experience
  • after sexual intercourse
  • at a time when it is not expected, before a child reaches 10, when you are pregnant or after menopause

 Causes of Vaginal Bleeding

Placenta Privia - Abnormal Vaginal BleedingDiagram of placenta previa

Pregnancy - Light vaginal spotting during pregnancy may be normal.  But it is better to see a doctor to rule out any complications.

Do be careful if you have heavy vaginal bleeding that occurs before the 12th week of pregnancy. This could be serious. There might be the possibility of an ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage.

And heavy bleeding that happens after the 20th week of gestation is not a good sign either. It could be placenta previa.

Placenta previa occurs when a baby’s placenta partially or totally covers the mother’s cervix. Placenta previa can cause severe bleeding before or during delivery.

Note :  The cervix is the doorway between the uterus and the vagina. (Please refer to the above diagram for a better understanding of placenta previa).

A note of caution: Do not take vaginal bleeding during pregnancy lightly.Contact your doctor immediately if you are pregnant and experience vaginal bleeding.

Ovulation - Ovulation refers to the release of a single, mature egg from the ovarian follicles. Bleeding may occur during the middle of a menstrual cycle (mid-cycle).

Ovulation bleeding tends to be pink or red in color.  It is lighter than a normal menstrual flow and generally last 1-2 days. Mid-cycle bleeding that last longer than a couple of days could be endometriosis.

Menstrual Cycles - Menstrual cycles that are longer than 35 days or shorter than 21 days. The lack of periods for 3-6 months (amenorrhea) is also abnormal.

Birth Control Methods - Contraceptive pills can cause abnormal vagina bleeding too. It is known as breakthrough bleeding. This is minor bleeding between periods. And this happens during the first three months after starting on the pill. Abnormal bleeding may also occur when the pill is not taken at a regular time each day.

Other birth control methods such as intrauterine device (IUD), contraceptive patch, implant or injection increase the chance of spotting or heavy periods too.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease - Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an inflammation or infection of the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries.  Abnormal vaginal bleeding is one of the common PID symptoms. Other symptoms of PID  are lower abdominal pain, fever and smelly vaginal discharge.

Sexually Transmitted Infections - STIs such as gonorrhea and Chlamydia can cause abnormal vaginal bleeding between periods. While genital/vaginal warts have symptoms of bleeding during or after sexual intercourse.

Menopause - After menopause, there is a drop in estrogen levels. As a result the vaginal walls become thinner and drier. Friction during intercourse tears the fragile vagina walls causing abnormal bleeding.

You can apply the manjakani vaginal gel to ease the dryness. Sex can still be very pleasurable post menopause.

Peri menopause, which starts around age 40 is also linked to abnormal uterine bleeding. This type of bleeding can be lighter or heavier than your pre -40 menstruation. 

Do not ignore abnormal bleeding if you are menopausal and have not had your period for one whole year. It might be cancer related. Go for a medical examination for peace of mind. If it is detected early, you have a good chance of overcoming the disease.

Please go for a medical checkup promptly when  you have abnormal vaginal bleeding.

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