During each of your menstrual cycles, the coating or lining of your uterus gets thicker as your body starts preparing for pregnancy in status for pregnancy. In case, there is no pregnancy, your body undergoes a menstrual period. The uterine lining is then shed as there is a loss of around 50% of blood. This lost blood can range from radiant red to dark brown. The normal flow of menstrual blood typically last for about 5 days and takes place every 21 to 35 days. Although this pattern can be different for different women depending on their age, the kind of diet they consume, stress, exercise or even if there are any kind of inherited factors. The menstrual flow can also be of varying degrees. In a normal menstrual cycle, around 40 ml of fluid loss is witnessed. After this whole process takes place, the entire menstrual cycle begins once again.
Irregular bleeding refers to any vaginal bleeding that happens aside from a regular period. The causes for irregular bleeding can range from an infection to hormonal imbalance. If you are someone who is suffering from ongoing bleeding problems, you should see your doctor and get yourself fully assessed so that you can be sure that there is no underlying problem like any conditions that can impact your fertility or even cancer. Irregular vaginal bleeding amid the menstrual periods is also known as intermenstrual bleeding/ spotting. When this bleeding happens in between the normal periods, it can be caused due to various factors.
Irregular Bleeding Causes:
An irregular or abnormal bleeding can be caused due to a lot of factors that includes a wide variety of medical conditions:
Hormonal Bleeding: A lack, or imbalance of hormones can often cause irregular menstrual cycle.
Anovulation: Anovulation is the name given to the condition in which the ovaries do not release an egg during menstrual cycle i.e., there is absence of ovulation.
Thyroid Disease: Thyroid disease is any kind of dysfunction of the thyroid gland i. e., disease that cause any dysfunction in the thyroid gland which is the butterfly shaped gland present at the base of the neck.
Polycystic ovary Syndrome: It is a common hormonal disorder among the women of the reproductive age. Women who have PCOS may have to suffer from infrequent or prolonged periods or they may have excess androgens i.e., the male hormones.
Structural Abnormalities of the uterus: If there is any of the following abnormalities in your uterus, then also you can experience irregular periods. The following factors may cause such abnormalities in the uterus resulting in irregular periods. These are the results of overgrowth of cells in the endometrial line i.e., the uterus.
Adenomyosis: In this condition, uterine tissue develops in places other than uterine cavity.
Excessive weight gain or loss
Precancer and cancer:
Any kinds of infections like Trichomoniasis, cervicitis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, endometritis, vaginitis
Other medical conditions such as liver disease, kidney disease, Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), Von Willebrand disease, leukemia or platelet disorders.
Any kind of medications:
Tamoxifen i.e., a cancer used to treat breast cancer
Intra Uterine Devices
Blood thinners and Aspirin
Birth control pills and Injectables like NuvaRing, Devapora, Implanon
Irregular Bleeding Symptoms:
Below is the list of the primary symptoms that can be experienced if someone is having irregular bleeding:
Spotting or bleeding in between your menstrual periods
Witnessing bleeding after you have done intercourse
Bleeding after one has reached menopause
Periods lasting longer than seven days
If soaking a sanitary pad in less than an hour
Other than these symptoms, other symptoms include bloating in the belly, tenderness in the breasts, pelvic pain, low blood pressure, etc.
Irregular Bleeding Diagnosis and Tests:
Your healthcare provider may order several tests or procedures when diagnosing irregular uterine bleeding as there are various conditions that can be causing such irregular bleeding. These tests may include:
Blood checkup – A blood test will be done to check the clot formation capacity of the blood and a total blood count.
Test for pregnancy – Light bleeding is common in the early stages of pregnancy. If undergone a miscarriage, the test will remain positive till 35 days after that so this may also be a cause of heavy bleeding.
A pelvic examination – The healthcare provider uses a sonohysterogram which is also referred to as saline-infusion sonography, in order to obtain information of structures like polyps and fibroids in the uterus.
Hormone level test – Hormone levels if not balanced can be a cause of irregular bleeding.
Thyroid test – A dysfunction in the thyroid gland may cause imbalance in working of the ovarian functions as well that may be a cause of bleeding as well.
Pap test – A pap smear is done to check the surface of the cervix for cell changes that may be a cause of cervical cancer. A biopsy of the endometrium is done to collect tissue samples from the uterus to check for cancerous or pre-cancerous cells in the uterine lining.
Hysteroscopy – A hysteroscopic examination is the insertion of a thin tube into the uterus and the doctor is able to check the inside structures of the uterus.
MRI – An MRI of the pelvis will give a clear image of any cancerous body or fibroids in the uterus.
Transvaginal Ultrasound – This is done by a small handheld device which obtains images of the lining of uterine cavity, myometrium, endometrium and ovaries as well.
Irregular Bleeding Treatment:
Treatment of irregular or abnormal bleeding is done only after the cause has been determined as first we have to get to the root of the problem in order to solve it so a proper and accurately carried out diagnosis is a critical part of the treatment protocol.
Medicinal treatment: Medicines should only be taken after the consultation of an experienced medical personnel. Some common medications prescribed by doctors may include:
NSAIDs – Non Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs, these drugs are more commonly referred to as ‘painkillers’ and they help in reducing the swelling inside the uterine wall.
Iron supplements – These may be prescribed to you by your doctor in order to overcome anemia.
Oral contraceptives – Oral contraceptives help in the regulation of menstrual cycle and can be used to alter the cycle.
Injections containing oestrogen or progestin for hormonal replacement help in treating hormonal imbalances.
Surgical procedures – These procedures are done if medicines and home remedies don’t work out for you. The following are some surgical procedures for treating irregular bleeding in women:
Endometrial ablation – This procedure is done by a trained medical doctor. It includes the destruction of the inner lining of uterus in order to remove any cancerous cells or abnormal growing body. This procedure seldom results in loss of menstrual flow.
Surgery for removal of cancerous tumours is a very common procedure for treating cancers and fibroids in the uterus.
Hysteroscopy – Polyps inside the uterus can be removed by the procedure of hysterescopy.
Irregular Bleeding Prevention:
Most of the causes of irregular uterine bleeding can not be prevented until you have a great medical help by your side, someone who knows what they are dealing with and how to cure it. Still, in order to reduce the risk of some problems, there are a few preventive measures that can be taken by you. The following are some methods that have been proven to be helpful in decreasing the risk of irregular bleeding:
Practice safe sex so that you can be prevented against sexually transmitted diseases (STIs) as STIs can also be a cause of irregular and abnormal bleeding.
Losing weight can be beneficial in preventing the risk of irregular bleeding as being overweight induces hormonal changes in your body that can result in irregular bleeding for a lot of females. This will be helpful in maintaining a good hormonal balance in the body and thus, preventing you from irregular bleeding as well as many such problems.
Change in food habits such as avoiding diet consisting of animal fats as animal fats have also been found as major causes in increasing the risk of cancers so excluding these fats from your diet will prove to be very beneficial for you.
Irregular bleeding should not be taken lightly as it may be a sign of some serious underlying diseases that can even prove to be a fatal if they are not dealt with caution at the right time. Seeking help from a trained and competent medical practitioner even after the first encounter of abnormal bleeding will prove to be a great help in preventing you from such serious fatal diseases.
In case you have been noticing that that there is an irregularity in your menstrual periods, you should get assessed by your doctor immediately. As we have already discussed above, there are a lot of serious conditions that can be causing it. You may not know about the kind of hardship that you may have to go through now, but you may regret not taking medical help at the right time when it gets too late. Other than this, the most important thing is that you should have a competent doctor by your side who has latest equipments so that proper diagnosis can be done and a great deal of experience and competence so that she/ he provides you with the best treatment.