Is it that time of the month again?! For some women, a menstrual cycle can be more than an inconvenience. It can mean unmanageable mood swings, heavy periods, missed periods, or spotting in between cycles. The most common reason women visit their doctors for these symptoms is due to Abnormal Uterine Bleeding (AUB). The average menstrual period lasts around five to seven days, but what’s “average” for you may be different from what’s “average” for someone else.
Abnormal Uterine Bleeding may include heavy menstrual bleeding (menorrhagia), or bleeding in between periods (metrorrhagia). AUB can be described as bleeding enough to interfere with normal activities. In fact, one in five women bleed so heavily during their periods that they have to put their normal lives on hold just to deal with the heavy blood flow.
Heavy menstrual bleeding can occur at various ages. It is common in your teens when you are first starting your period and in your late 40’s and early 50’s when you are approaching menopause. It is not normal to experience any vaginal bleeding post menopause. You need to consult a healthcare professional right away if that happens.
Amenorrhea is the opposite of heavy menstrual bleeding, it is a condition when you experience no period at all. It is normal before puberty, after menopause, and during pregnancy. If none of these conditions apply to you and you experience absence of your menstrual cycle, it is important to discuss this with your doctor. Abnormal bleeding or the absence of a menstrual cycle can have a number of different causes such as:
- Thyroid problems
- Blood clotting disorders
- Liver or kidney disease
- Anticoagulant medications (Plavix or Heparin)
- Ectopic pregnancy
- Infections or precancerous conditions of the uterine lining cells
Depending on your personal risk factors, the three most common treatment options for women suffering from Abnormal Uterine Bleeding are:
- Hormone treatments such as birth control pills, injections, vaginal cream, or IUD insertion into the uterus
- Other medications including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like Ibuprofen
- Surgery to remove polyps or fibroids, endometrial ablation, or hysterectomy