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Abnormal uterine bleeding is a term used when those who menstruate experience any type of bleeding outside their normal menstrual cycle. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists tells us that the normal length of a menstrual cycle is typically between 24 days and 38 days and generally lasts up to eight days. When a person experiences any bleeding that does not occur during their normal cycle, which includes both minimal and heavy bleeding, they should make an appointment with a professional gynecologist for further evaluation.
In order to receive a proper diagnosis, a patient will need to keep track of their menstrual cycles for a certain period of time, as well as make necessary notes regarding abnormal bleeding.
POSSIBLE CAUSES OF ABNORMAL UTERINE BLEEDING
There are a number of possible causes that can lead to being diagnosed with abnormal uterine bleeding, with some being more serious than others. One of the more common causes is directly related to one or more structural abnormalities that may exist in the uterus.
Possible causes of abnormal bleeding in the uterus:
- Ovulation problems
- A diagnosis of fibroids or polyps
- Bleeding disorders
- Experiencing a miscarriage
- Experiencing an ectopic pregnancy
- An endometriosis diagnosis
- Experiencing problems connected to birth control methods
- Being diagnosed with cancer, e.g., uterine cancer, cervical cancer, etc.
HOW ABNORMAL UTERINE BLEEDING IS DIAGNOSED
A gynecologist will choose one of the many tests available that can lead to a diagnosis of abnormal bleeding, which is dependent on the patient’s symptoms, as well as their age.
Tests that can be used to detect abnormal bleeding in the uterus:
- Ultrasound: An ultrasound uses sound waves to take images of the pelvic area
- Hysteroscopy: This test requires the insertion of a small special instrument into the vagina and then into the cervix, which allows the ability to look inside the uterus
- Endometrial biopsy: A small sample of the endometrium is taken from the uterus and then checked for abnormalities
- Sonohysterography: This test requires a special fluid to be added to the uterus so ultrasound images can be taken specifically of the uterus
- MRI: Magnetic resonance imaging can be used to take images of all the internal organs
- CT: Computed tomography uses X-rays to take images of the internal organs
COMMON TREATMENT OPTIONS FOR ABNORMAL UTERINE BLEEDING
When it comes to treating abnormal uterine bleeding, it will depend on each patient’s situation for what type of treatment a gynecologist will recommend. Some treatments can help return the menstrual cycle back to its normal cycle, while others are specifically used to either reduce the abnormal bleeding or to stop monthly menstrual cycles permanently. Because there are many options available for treating abnormal bleeding in the uterus, it is essential for every patient to thoroughly discuss their options with a professional gynecologist.
Treatment options commonly used to treat abnormal bleeding:
- Hormone treatment is the most common type of treatment used to address abnormal bleeding in the uterus, e.g., birth control pills, progestin, etc.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can be used to help reduce blood loss
- An IUD can be inserted to reduce abnormal bleeding
- Surgical procedures can remove fibroids or polyps causing the abnormal bleeding
- Uterine ablation destroys and therefore removes the lining of the uterus
- A hysterectomy removes the entire uterus and is often the last resort
THE RECOVERY PROCESS
The recovery process will simply depend on the type of treatment performed to lessen or completely stop the abnormal uterine bleeding. Hormonal treatments and anti-inflammatory treatments will often only require an adjustment period as the patient gets used to taking their prescribed medications. When any type of surgical procedures is necessary to control or stop the abnormal bleeding, it is essential for the patient to follow their gynecologist’s instructions exactly if they expect to have a full and successful recovery.
ARE YOU CURRENTLY EXPERIENCING ANY ABNORMAL BLEEDING?
If you are currently experiencing abnormal uterine bleeding, then it is recommended that you keep track of your menstrual cycle, as well as take notes regarding any bleeding outside of your menstrual cycle, starting today. This information will be extremely beneficial to a gynecologist, as it allows them to understand your particular situation. You will need to make an appointment for a full evaluation, which may include performing one or more of the above tests, as this allows for an accurate diagnosis.