Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
Unexpected bleeding is always a concern for a woman at any stage of life. Bleeding other than a normal menstrual period and even an abnormally heavy period can be great cause for alarm. The medical term for excessive or prolonged vaginal bleeding that occurs at the regular time of the menstrual cycle is known as menorrhagia. Metrorrhagia is the term used to refer to uterine bleeding at irregular intervals, particularly between the expected menstrual periods. Menometrorrhagia is the combination of the two, that is, excessive uterine bleeding, both at the usual time of menstrual periods and at other irregular intervals.
It is important to understand exactly what is causing the bleeding, its origin (uterus,
vagina, or some other organ or tissue), and to make decisions about how to control or stop the bleeding.
A woman's normal menstrual cycle involves a complex series of hormonal
events. An egg is released from the
ovary; either the egg is fertilized by a
sperm and implants in the uterus, or the lining of the uterus is shed each month
as the menstrual period. This shedding causes normal menstrual bleeding.
A normal menstrual cycle is 28 days plus or minus 7 days.
A menstrual period generally lasts from 2-7 days and has a typical volume of blood and fluid loss of about 2 to 8 (average 5) tablespoons. This corresponds to about
eight or fewer soaked pads per day with usually no more than 2 days of heavy bleeding.
There is no home treatment for abnormal vaginal bleeding. With some types of vaginal bleeding, it may be okay to wait to see if the bleeding stops on its own. Check your symptoms to decide if and when you should see a doctor. If the bleeding continues or gets worse, a visit to a doctor is needed to determine the reason for the bleeding.
If you are using tampons for abnormal vaginal bleeding, be sure to change them often, and do not leave one in place when the bleeding has stopped. A tampon left in the vagina may put you at risk for toxic shock syndrome (TSS). TSS is a rare but life-threatening illness that develops suddenly after a bacterial infection rapidly affects several different organ systems.