Abnormal uterine bleeding can occur for a number of reasons, including problems with ovulation, a hormonal imbalance or abnormalities of the vagina, cervix or uterus.
Abnormal bleeding may be:
Common reasons for abnormal uterine bleeding include:
A medical history and gynecologic examination are useful in identifying the cause of abnormal uterine bleeding. Other tests may include endometrial biopsy, in which a small amount of tissue is removed from the uterine cavity to assist in making a diagnosis; hormone tests; or ultrasound. Hysteroscopy, a procedure during which a tiny "telescope" is placed into the uterine cavity to examine the cavity, can also be helpful.
Abnormal bleeding may be treated with hormones such as oral contraceptive pills. Sometimes hysteroscopy is required to remove a polyp or small fibroid.
Heavy bleeding often can be decreased or stopped by endometrial ablation, a procedure in which the uterine lining is removed or destroyed. Some women choose hysterectomy, or removal of the uterus, as the most definitive way of ending abnormal bleeding once and for all.
Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.