Vaginal Bleeding (cont.)
Vaginal Bleeding Causes
Dysfunctional Uterine Bleeding
- When bleeding is not caused by your menstrual cycle, it is called abnormal
or dysfunctional uterine bleeding. This is the most common cause of abnormal
vaginal bleeding during a woman's childbearing years. Up to 10% of women may
experience excessive bleeding at one time or another. African American women
tend to have more episodes.
- When the complex hormonal processes of the menstrual cycle are interrupted,
resulting in estrogen and progesterone levels that are out of balance, excessive
vaginal bleeding may occur. This bleeding is related to irregularities of your
menstrual cycle without any disease.
- The diagnosis of dysfunctional uterine bleeding is a diagnosis of
exclusion, which means that all other causes for the bleeding (including trauma,
tumors, or diseases) have been looked for and determined not to be the cause of
- Depending on the female adolescent or woman's age, there are different reasons for
the person to have
dysfunctional uterine bleeding.
- Dysfunctional uterine bleeding is usually associated with an anovulatory
cycle. Anovulation occurs when a menstrual cycle occurs that does not result in
the release of an egg from one of the ovaries.
- In some cases, dysfunctional uterine bleeding can occur with ovulation or
the release of an egg from an ovary.
- When a woman does not produce an egg, there is still stimulation of the uterus
from the hormone estrogen. Progesterone, a very important hormone produced by a
growing egg, is absent. Therefore, the lining of the uterus becomes unusually
thick and enlarged.
- Irregular shedding of the uterine lining and heavy bleeding occurs. The
then experiences heavy, irregular vaginal bleeding (usually painless).
The most common cause of dysfunctional uterine bleeding in a female
adolescent is anovulation.
- In the first two years of a female adolescent having a menstrual cycle, 85% of
cycles can occur without the release of an egg.
- As the female adolescent gets older, the percentage of cycles that are anovulatory decreases,
and she is more likely to experience normal periods.
- By the time the the female adolescent has had a menstrual cycle for six years, fewer than 20%
of cycles will occur without an egg being released from one of the ovaries.
In women of childbearing age (around18-40 years), the most common cause of
abnormal uterine bleeding is pregnancy and its complications such as
pregnancies or miscarriages. Anovulation can be a cause of bleeding in women of
childbearing age. However, anovulation occurs in fewer than 20% of women in this
category, so all other causes, including pelvic inflammatory disease and
uterine fibroids, must be ruled out.
Older women who are approaching
menopause may also experience dysfunctional
bleeding due to the hormonal changes that accompany the menopausal transition.
Diseases of the female reproductive organs may cause bleeding.
- A woman may have a harmless (not cancerous) sore (polyp or lesion) on
genitals that can cause bleeding.
- Cancer of the vagina, cervix,
ovaries can cause bleeding.
Ovarian cysts, cervicitis,
endometritis, fibroids, vaginal infections, and other
conditions can also cause excessive bleeding.
- Vaginal bleeding is a particular concern in women older than age 50 years
(or after menopause). The risk of cancer increases with age. Also, your vaginal
walls may be dry from lack of estrogen, which may cause bleeding during or after
Certain drugs may cause bleeding, especially if a woman takes
anticoagulant drugs (drugs that prevent the blood from clotting).
Inherited bleeding disorders (such as von
Willebrand disease and hemophilia)
may cause excessive or prolonged vaginal bleeding.
Trauma is also a cause of bleeding. An
IUD may cause bleeding (slight
bleeding is usually normal; pay attention to heavier bleeding). Injury (trauma
to the vaginal wall) from sexual intercourse may happen.
Must Read Articles Related to Vaginal Bleeding
Abdominal Pain in Adults
Abdominal pain in adults can range from a mild stomach ache to severe pain. Examples of causes of abdominal pain in adults include appendicitis, gallbladder dis...learn more >>
Ectopic pregnancy is a condition in which a pregnancy develops outside of a woman's uterus. Causes of ectopic pregnancy include previous Fallopian tube infectio...learn more >>
Uterine (endometrial) cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women in the U.S. Read about staging, symptoms, prognosis, risk factors and treatment. Treatmen...learn more >>
Patient Comments & Reviews
The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Vaginal Bleeding: