Vaginal bleeding normally occurs during a woman's menstrual cycle, when she gets her period. Every woman's period is different. On average, a woman's period occurs every 28 days. Most women have cycles between 24 and 34 days apart. It usually lasts 4 - 7 days.
Young girls may get their periods anywhere from 21 to 45 days or more apart. Women in their 40s will often notice their period occurring less often.
Some conditions can cause abnormal vaginal bleeding. This article discusses heavy, prolonged, or irregular periods.
For vaginal bleeding due to changes in hormone levels, see: Dysfunctional uterine bleeding (DUB)
A change in hormone levels is a common cause of abnormal menstrual bleeding. For information on this cause, see: dysfunctional uterine bleeding
Other causes of heavy, prolonged, or irregular menstrual bleeding include:
Symptoms of abnormal vaginal bleeding include:
Bleeding from the rectum or there is blood in your urine may be mistaken for vaginal bleeding. To know for certain, insert a tampon into the vagina and check for bleeding.
Keep a record of your symptoms and bring these notes to your doctor. Your record should include:
Your doctor will perform a physical examination, including a pelvic exam. Your doctor will ask questions about your medical history and symptoms, including:
Tests that may be done include:
Treatment depends on the cause and may include pain medication, hormonal medications, and possibly surgery. For treatment information, see:
Call your doctor if:
Aspirin may prolong bleeding and should be avoided if you have bleeding problems. Ibuprofen is usually works better than aspirin for relieving menstrual cramps. It also may reduce the amount of blood you lose during a period.
Irregular menstruation; Heavy, prolonged, or irregular periods; Menorrhagia; Polymenorrhea; Metrorrhagia and other menstrual conditions; Abnormal menstrual periods; Abnormal vaginal bleeding
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[No authors listed] ACOG Practice Bulletin No. 110: noncontraceptive uses of hormonal contraceptives. Obstet Gynecol. 2010 Jan;115(1):206-18.
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Updated by: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc., Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Chief, Eastside Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Bellevue, Washington; Clinical Teaching Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine.
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