What is Abnormal Bleeding?
Abnormal bleeding is bleeding that is different than your normal menstrual cycle or occurs at different times. This includes:
- Bleeding between menstrual cycles
- Periods that have more than 38 days between cycles
- Bleeding after intercourse
- Bleeding after menopause
- Periods that last longer than 7-9 days
Although women often have irregular bleeding at some point, it can be problematic if it occurs regularly.
Why is Abnormal Bleeding Important?
Abnormal bleeding can sometimes be perfectly normal and not a cause for concern. Other times, your gynecologist may want to investigate further. That’s because abnormal bleeding can sometimes (but not always) be caused by:
- Undiagnosed or abnormal pregnancies, such as miscarriages or ectopic pregnancies
- Birth control or IUDs
- Thyroid or hormonal imbalances, such as PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome)
- Uterine fibroids or polyps
- Pre-cancerous lesions or cancer (particularly uterine or cervical cancer, although rare)
For this reason, it’s important that your gynecologist assesses your health and can determine whether your abnormal bleeding may be serious or not. Interestingly, abnormal menstrual cycles are more common in certain age groups. We find that in young girls who are first starting to get their period and in women who are peri-menopausal, periods may come more or less frequently.
How Can My Gynecologist Help?
If you’ve noticed irregular or abnormal bleeding that you believe is problematic, you should make an appointment with your gynecologist. They can discuss your symptoms and perform some examinations, as well as order the appropriate tests. This might include simple blood tests that can detect hormonal imbalances or early pregnancies. An ultrasound can help identify abnormalities of the uterus or ovaries. Lastly, a biopsy of the uterus can be performed to rule out pre-cancer or cancer. It’s important to remember that these tests are used in rare instances where abnormal bleeding is caused by a more severe health concern. However, it’s always safe to discuss your concerns with your gynecologist who can make the best recommendation.
Abnormal menstrual bleeding is common and very treatable. Your gynecologist will likely be able to help normalize your bleeding with medication first. Options usually include birth control pills, IUD’s, patches, or vaginal rings. If tests find that your bleeding is the result of something more severe, surgery can sometimes be performed. Your gynecologist will make sure you understand your options during an appointment.
Schedule an Appointment
Abnormal bleeding can sometimes be cause for concern, so it’s important to partner with an expert gynecologist who can discuss your options and treatments. To schedule an appointment with our compassionate team, contact our New York City office by calling or filling out our online form.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can stress cause longer periods?
Stress can have a variety of effects on your menstrual cycle. This can include longer or shorter periods, heavier or mid-cycle bleeding, or your period may stop altogether.