Having abnormal vaginal or uterine bleeding can be distressing. If you experience abnormal gynecological bleeding (any bleeding that occurs between periods) or recurrent heavy periods, make an appointment with your doctor to determine the cause. Gynecologists and women’s health specialists in the Sutter Health network can diagnose your condition and suggest appropriate treatments.
Abnormal bleeding has many potential causes, including a polyp in the uterus or cervix, a hormone imbalance, an ectopic pregnancy, uterine fibroids, or polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). To pinpoint the problem, your doctor will review your medical history, any medications you take and will likely conduct a physical examination, as well as a pelvic exam. Based on your symptoms, your doctor may also order laboratory or imaging tests. Once the problem is identified, you and your doctor can discuss the best treatment option for you.
If your abnormal bleeding is due to a hormonal imbalance, your doctor may suggest placing you on birth control pills or implanting an intrauterine device (IUD) to balance the levels of estrogen and progestin in your body. Hormone therapy may also be an option, especially for older women. Birth control pills and other types of medications may also be suggested if you have polycystic ovary syndrome.
Abnormal growth of the uterine lining, that occurs within the pelvic cavity may be responsible for causing painful periods, pelvic pain or painful intercourse. Your doctor may recommend options such as medical hormonal treatments or laparoscopic surgery.
Fibroids, Polyps and Cysts
Noncancerous growths that form inside the uterus or cervix are common culprits of abnormal bleeding. Such growths include uterine fibroids, uterine polyps, cervical polyps, endometrial polyps and cysts. These types of growths can be treated through minimally invasive surgical procedures such as hysteroscopy, or laparoscopy.
When a fertilized egg implants itself in the fallopian tube instead of the uterus, the result is an ectopic pregnancy that can cause abnormal bleeding. The fallopian tubes aren’t designed to hold a growing embryo and can rupture from the pressure, resulting in the need for emergency surgery. Ectopic pregnancies can be treated with certain medications that help remove the pregnancy tissue from your fallopian tube. Many doctors choose to treat the condition by performing a laparoscopy. If needed or in an emergency situation, your doctor may perform a laparotomy, which involves a larger open abdominal incision, to remove the tissue.
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