Excessive Vaginal Bleeding: Its Symptoms and Treatment Excessive vaginal bleeding for any reason including an abnormally heavy period is cause for concern for a woman at any age. Anything outside of a normal menstrual period can be alarming and the first thing to do is to understand the cause for this. While the uterus or vagina could be the obvious reason, there are chances that the excessive vaginal bleeding is from another tissue or organ. This must be diagnosed and controlled through treatment to stay healthy. What causes the bleeding? Normally, women go through a menstrual cycle involving a sequence of hormonal changes resulting in the release of an egg by the ovary. This egg could be fertilized and stay in the uterus, or the lining of the uterus could be
shed as the menstrual period. This is usually seen as normal bleeding and could last from two to seven days for most women. On average, about five tablespoons of blood are shed. But when the bleeding is not normal and is far more than the average period, there could be several causes. - Abnormal uterine bleeding or bleeding that is not because of the menstrual cycle - In adolescent women, when no egg released during the menstrual cycle - Pregnancy complications such as ectopic pregnancies and miscarriages - Uterine fibroids - Pelvic inflammatory disease - Menopause - Diseases of the female reproductive organs such as cancer, ovarian cysts, endometritis, vaginal infections - Drugs - Inherited bleeding disorders - Trauma The symptoms of excessive vaginal bleeding usually manifest as very heavy menstrual periods and stained clothes without warning, disruption in daily routine and tiredness.
While it may not always be an emergency, it is important to seek medical care preferably with a gynecologist, at the first sign of abnormal bleeding. If there are other symptoms with the bleeding such as dizziness, acute pain in the abdomen or fever, a thorough assessment will be necessary to avoid excessive loss of blood. The physician will usually recommend exams and tests to diagnose the problem, besides studying the medical history and asking questions related to previous pregnancies, birth control being used, and history of bleeding disorders, number of children, current medication and surgeries undergone. A full pelvic exam is done as part of the physical examination. Some of the tests prescribed are: - Pregnancy test - Blood work to check for anemia and platelet count, clotting, thyroid tests - X-rays and ultrasound of the abdomen and pelvic area - Endometrial biopsy where tissue from the uterus is studied Based on the results of the above diagnostic tests, one or more courses of treatment could be advised for excessive vaginal bleeding. These are:
- Taking care at home through rest and keeping track of the bleeding so that the physician can advise based on the amount of bleeding - Medical treatment in the form of prescription hormones if there are hormonal irregularities to regulate the menstrual cycle. If there are other causes for bleeding such as infections or diseases, treatment is focused on those. - Surgery if necessary Meticulous follow up is a part of the treatment for excessive vaginal bleeding to ensure that it does not get worse, leading to anemia.
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Excessive vaginal bleeding for any reason including an abnormally heavy period is cause for concern for a woman at any age. Anything outside...