Abnormal uterine bleeding

Diagnosis of abnormal uterine bleeding

If you have heavy, abnormal uterine bleeding, you need to see a doctor right away. The root cause could be something very serious. At the very least, abnormal uterine bleeding can significantly lower your quality of life, which means that getting effective treatment is essential.

When you go to your doctor, they will begin by asking you about your symptoms and medical history. They will also ask you questions about your menstrual cycle and whether you are using any birth control. Your doctor may perform a pelvic exam to check the size of your pelvic organs and feel for any abnormalities.

Once this is done, your doctor will run some tests, which can include one or more of the following:

  • Ultrasound: The ultrasound will provide your doctor with an image of your uterus, which will allow them to see any abnormalities in its structure. Examples of abnormalities include fibroids, polyps, and tumors.
  • Blood tests: A blood test will allow your doctor to check your hormone levels to see if they are within the normal range. This will also give your doctor information on your red blood cell count. If it is low, you could have anemia, which often results from heavy bleeding.
  • Endometrial biopsy: If your doctor sees any abnormalities in your uterus, they will order a biopsy of the uterine lining to test for abnormal cells that can indicate the presence of a hormone imbalance or cancer.

Treatment

Treatment options depend on the cause of abnormal uterine bleeding, the severity of your symptoms, your age, and your reproductive goals. For adolescents whose symptoms are not severe, there may be no treatment, as their hormone imbalance will correct itself naturally. Likewise, women who are close to menopause may not need any treatment.

For those who do need abnormal uterine bleeding treatment, the options include:

  • Hormone therapy: Healthcare providers often prescribe birth control pills, hormone injections, or hormone creams to regulate hormone levels and decrease or eliminate abnormal uterine bleeding. Hormone-releasing IUDs are also used to control bleeding.
  • Other medications: Antibiotics treat infections that cause abnormal uterine bleeding. A variety of other prescription medications are used in some cases to control bleeding.
  • Endometrial ablation: This is a specialized procedure that destroys the lining of your uterus to eliminate abnormal uterine bleeding.
  • Surgery: This includes dilation and curettage (D&C), which is a procedure used to scrape away the uterine lining. Surgical removal of fibroids or polyps, and hysterectomy, the surgical removal of the uterus, are other surgeries your doctor may perform.

Your Dignity Health provider will discuss your options with you and help you select the most appropriate treatment for abnormal uterine bleeding.

Preparation

When preparing to see your doctor about your abnormal uterine bleeding, you may feel shy, embarrassed, or self-conscious. This is understandable, but there is no need to worry. Just be sure to prepare before you go by doing the following:

  • Make a list of any questions you have.
  • Be prepared to discuss your symptoms and your method of birth control.
  • Bring a list of your current medications, including their dosages.
  • Avoid scheduling the appointment when you are on your period.

Recovery

In most cases, women will have a full recovery from abnormal uterine bleeding once they receive the right hormone therapy. If you need surgery to remove uterine fibroids or uterine polyps or for a dilation and curettage (D&C) to treat a thickened lining of the uterus, your recovery will take a few days to a few weeks, after which you will be able to get back to your normal activities.

The most significant treatments, including a hysterectomy and the treatment of uterine cancer, will be the most disruptive. After a hysterectomy, you will need several weeks of healing time, and then you will be able to resume your normal activities. If cancer is present, this hysterectomy may be accompanied by chemotherapy and radiation. The outcome will depend on a number of factors, including the stage of cancer.

 

Complications

In most cases, abnormal uterine bleeding is temporary. Regulation of hormones usually sets things right. However, if the condition is severe and goes on for an extended period of time, you could become anemic. This will be treated with iron supplements and other vitamins and supplements. Iron injections may be needed. If the bleeding is extremely heavy, you may need a blood transfusio

The information contained in this article is meant for educational purposes only and should not replace advice from your healthcare provider.