Abnormal Uterine Bleeding

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Are you soaking through an overnight pad or two every night of your period?

Does your period last for more than seven days?

Are you bleeding more often than every three weeks?

Are you spotting between your periods?

Do you change your plans when you have your period because you can't keep up with the bleeding?

Chances are if you answered yes to any of these questions you likely have abnormal uterine bleeding.

For most women with abnormal uterine bleeding, having heavy or irregular periods is a change from their normal cycle. 

If you are having problems with your period you are not alone.

This is a very common problem among women. It keeps us gynecologists very busy.  In fact, about one in every three office visits has to do with complaints about changes in menstrual bleeding.  

Your age helps narrow down the possible causes of your abnormal bleeding. Certain causes are more common in certain age groups.

We typically put women into three age groups. (Remember these are general groupings and some women may not fit each group exactly.)

13-18 years old

This age group is referred to as the adolescent years.  This is the time from when your period starts (menarche) until it should be coming regularly in a normal pattern. Your periods might be regular from the very start but it is very common for it to take a few years for your body to establish regular bleeding.

To learn more about abnormal bleeding in this age group please read When Will My Periods Become Regular?

19-39 years old

This age group is referred to as the reproductive years. This is the time during which normal regular cycles are expected. These are the years when your body is preparing every month to get pregnant.

When pregnancy doesn’t happen you get your period usually at approximately the same time every month. Obviously pregnancy can happen before or after this age range.

40 years old- menopause

 This age group is referred to as the perimenopausal years. During this time abnormal bleeding is very common. It is a time when your ovaries are starting to shut down. Remember you need to ovulate in order to have a regular period. In fact not all changes in your period during this time are considered to be a problem.

Talking with your gynecologist

When you visit your gynecologist you probably will be asked a lot of questions. Your answers to these questions will help your gynecologist figure out why your periods have changed.

The pattern of your bleeding will help your gynecologist figure out whether or not your abnormal uterine bleeding is happening with ovulation (ovulatory abnormal uterine bleeding) or whether your bleeding is happening because you are not ovulating (anovulatory uterine bleeding).  This information will help your gynecologist make a diagnosis to explain the change in your period.

Here are some of the questions your gynecologist may ask you.

Think about how you might answer these questions. Be prepared when you see your gynecologist. The more information you can give about the changes in your period the better.

When was your last normal period?

How often do your periods normally come?

How many days do you usually bleed for?

Are your periods coming at the same time as they normally do? If not then how have they changed?

Are your periods coming more frequently or less frequently?

Is the bleeding heavier or lighter?

Are you using any form of contraception?

What medications or herbal supplements are you taking?

Have you changed your diet or exercise routine?

These are just an example of some of the questions that you may be asked. It is also important for you to discuss any other changes in your body even if you don’t think they are related to the change in your period.

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