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What is Abnormal Uterine Bleeding?

One common reason why women frequently seek medical help from their gynecologist, a specialist who treats disorders of the female reproductive tract, is due to abnormal uterine bleeding. Abnormal uterine bleeding is a condition characterized by irregular bleeding patterns in women. Examples are excessive menstrual bleeding, known as menorrhagia, and absence of menstruation, known as amenorrhea. These conditions are often caused by hormonal imbalance that occurs inside the woman's body.

The menstrual cycle generally takes about 28 days. Cycles with less than or more than this by at least seven days are still be considered normal. Bleeding that occurs for more than 35 days, or less than 21 days is often an indication of abnormal uterine bleeding. Absence of menstrual period for at least three to six months is also considered a dysfunctional uterine bleeding. Other manifestations of abnormal uterine bleeding include bleeding after sex, between periods, and after menopause. Women are frequently advised to seek consultation with their gynecologists when they observe signs of irregularities in their menstrual cycles.

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Abnormal uterine bleeding causes include ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, and complications connected to the use of birth control pills. Use of other birth control methods such as intrauterine device (IUD) can also lead to the condition. Other causes are infection of the cervix or uterus, blood clotting problems, and presence of fibroid and polyps in the reproductive tract. Women with cancer in the vagina, cervix, or uterus as well as those suffering from chronic medical conditions like thyroid problems and diabetes may also suffer irregular bleeding.

Gynecologists usually find it helpful when patients keep records of their menstrual cycles, including the dates, number of days of menstruation, and consistency of flow, either light or heavy. During consultation, a physical and internal examination are usually done. Blood tests frequently requested for women with abnormal uterine bleeding include the complete blood count (CBC) as well as blood test to measure hormone levels. Some patients may need to have an ultrasound of the abdomen and pelvic area.

Treatments are often based on the cause of the bleeding problem, and whether the woman would still want to bear children. Birth controls pills and hormones are some of the medications usually prescribed for women with some abnormal uterine bleeding. Nonsteroidal, anti-inflammatory medicines may also be given to relieve menstrual cramps.

When polyps and fibroids are the cause of bleeding, surgery may be performed to remove them. Other surgical procedures done to treat abnormal uterine bleeding are hysterectomy and endometrial ablation. Hysterectomy is the removal of the woman's uterus, and endometrial ablation is a procedure using heat, freezing, or laser to dissolve the endometrium in order to stop the bleeding permanently. Both procedures render the woman incapable of getting pregnant again.

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