Vaginal Health

What is Abnormal Vaginal Bleeding?

February 22, 2018

Abnormal vaginal bleeding may be related to several types of health conditions, such as gynecological cancers (cancer of the female reproductive system). Because abnormal vaginal bleeding isn’t specifically associated with just one disease or condition, medical tests and evaluations are vital for an accurate identification.

In relation to cervical cancer, abnormal vaginal bleeding is a generally experienced esophageal cancer symptom.

That being said, most women with cervical cancer do not experience symptoms until the later phases of the disease.

Since cervical cancer usually doesn’t present early stage signs, it’s very important for women to have a normal Pap smear to detect abnormal fluctuations.

What’s Abnormal Vaginal Bleeding?

Vaginal bleeding is considered abnormal when a individual has heavy menstrual bleeding (either in volume or length ), bleeding between periods, spotting, vaginal bleeding after intercourse, or bleeding after menopause (when a woman’s periods have ceased for 12 months). 

Heavy Menstrual Bleeding

If heavy menstrual bleeding occurs at frequent intervals (such as every menstrual cycle, which may range from each 24 to 35 days), it’s termed ovulatory abnormal uterine bleeding, or menorrhagia. 

How do you know if you are having heavy menstrual bleeding? Women who have heavy bleeding might have to wake up during the night to change sanitary protection or will need to utilize two sanitary napkins to avoid leakage.

Menstrual flow may also consist of large blood clots (greater than 1 inch) and/or bleeding may longer than seven days. If you experience an abrupt onset of significant bleeding which requires you alter a sanitary napkin or tampon every a couple of hours to get a couple of consecutive hours, then alert your doctor immediately.

Keep tabs on the amount of pads or tampons you use in a certain amount of time so you can report this to your own doctor.

Causes of heavy menstrual bleeding comprise a bleeding disorder (such as von Willebrand’s disease), an underactive thyroid gland, uterine polyps, or fibroids. 

Bleeding Between Menstrual Periods

Heavy spotting (also known as intermenstrual bleeding) should be assessed by a doctor. This can happen for many reasons–from something as straightforward as contraceptive use to cervical cancer and other forms of gynecologic cancer. It can be a sign of cervicitis or harms for your vaginal opening including infection or varicose veins.

You will see bleeding between menstrual periods in cases of changes of the hormone levels due to stopping or starting contraceptives or estrogens, stress, or an underactive thyroid. Should you use an anticoagulant (often called a blood thinner), you may also have spotting. It may also be a sign of ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage.

Vaginal Bleeding During or After Sex

Women may experience vaginal bleeding during and after sexual intercourse for many reasons. Some women chalk this up to having”rough sex,” but there are several medical reasons related to the cervix that explain why bleeding might occur.

They comprise:

  • Cervical inflammation (cervicitis)
  • cervical polyps
  • cervical ectropion
  • cervical dysplasia
  • cervical cancer
  • vaginal dryness due to lack of estrogen following menopause

Other possible causes of vaginal bleeding after intercourse include sexually transmitted diseases and pelvic inflammatory disease. Trauma including sexual abuse and foreign bodies in the vagina may be other causes of bleeding during or after sex.

Remember that vaginal bleeding after sex isn’t normal and should be reported to your physician.

A Word From Verywell

If you’re experiencing abnormal vaginal bleeding, please visit your doctor for a proper diagnosis and therapy.

Although most causes are benign, you would like to be certain, and if you do have something serious going on, that it’s addressed straight away. 

Another tidbit is that if you aren’t positive if your bleeding is either vaginal or urinary, you can add a spoonful to confirm the bleeding is coming from either the anus, cervix, or uterus.