Dysfunctional uterine bleeding or abnormal uterine bleeding is a condition in which there are irregularities in the frequency of menstrual cycles, the length of menstrual cycles or abnormally heavy bleeding. Most often, these irregularities occur due to hormonal imbalances, but there are other conditions which can produce similar symptoms.
How Long is a Normal Period?
A normal, healthy period should last 4-5 days. If it lasts more than a week or less than 2 days, this could be an indicator that something is out of balance.
A normal cycle may vary by a few days, but should not vary more than one week — be wary if your cycle is longer than 5 weeks or less than 3 weeks as this can be a sign of problems.
What Are the Symptoms of Dysfunctional Uterine Bleeding?
Dysfunctional uterine bleeding can be described by periods that are too short or too long as well as bleeding that’s too heavy or bleeding that contains many clots. Some of the symptoms of abnormal uterine bleeding include:
- Pelvic pain or uncomfortable pressure
- Menstrual bleeding lasting more than 7 days
- Menstrual bleeding lasting less than 2 days
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
- Bleeding or spotting between periods
- Menstrual bleeding that contains a lot of clots or large clots
What Causes Dysfunctional Uterine Bleeding?
The primary cause of abnormal menstruation is a hormonal imbalance which occurs most frequently at puberty and menopause.
Abnormally heavy menstrual bleeding is also called menorrhagia. Other issues related to dysfunctional uterine bleeding include bleeding or spotting between periods and bleeding after sex.
Factors that can impact hormonal balance include stress (physical or emotional), rapid weight gain or loss, medications, birth control pills and intrauterine devices (IUDs).
Some of the other conditions that often result in abnormal uterine bleeding include:
- Uterine fibroids- tumors often found growing on the uterine muscles
- Uterine polyps- also known as endometrial polyps, these small, soft growths occur inside the uterus. Most uterine polyps are non-cancerous.
- Endometriosis- a uterine lining tissue disorder where the tissue grows outside the uterus
- Diabetes- a chronic insulin disorder
- Thyroid disease - disorders of the thyroid include overproduction of hormones (hyperthyroidism), underproduction (hypothyroidism), Grave’s disease, toxic adenomas and inflammation of the thyroid (subacute thyroiditis).
- Kidney disease- a disorder where the kidneys fail to filter the body’s blood normally
- Ectopic pregnancy- a pregnancy where the fetus grows in the fallopian tube or someplace outside the uterus
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)- a hormonal imbalance where periods stop or become irregular and skin abnormalities like unwanted hair and acne develop
- Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)- infections and autoimmune illnesses transmitted through sexual contact
- Problems with blood clotting - menstrual clots may be formed and released when there is more blood flow than the body can keep up with. If the body doesn’t produce anticoagulants quickly enough, clots are released.
- Certain Medications
- Blood thinners
- Birth control pills
- Hormone replacement therapy
- Certain Cancers- when malignant cells grow inside bodily organs
- Vaginal cancer
- Endometrial cancer
- Uterine sarcoma
- Ovarian cancer
- Cervical cancer
When to See a Doctor
If you’re pregnant and are experiencing uterine bleeding, contact your doctor immediately as this could be a sign of a serious condition.
Any time you experience bleeding that’s unexpected or abnormal for you, see your doctor.
How Advanced Gynecology Can Help
Our board-certified team of specialists and surgeons is here for you to diagnose the cause of your dysfunctional uterine bleeding and work to find the best treatment plan for you.
For more information, schedule an appointment today or call 678-263-0280 to speak with one of our patient coordinators.