Non-menstrual bleeding is an abnormal condition that requires a proper evaluation by a gynecologist. Read this article to get a brief overview about various important aspects of this health condition in women.
Normal menstrual bleeding occurs after a gap of 21-35 days and it lasts for 4-7 days. On the other hand, non-menstrual bleeding happens any time in between two periods. This is quite different for every women. Some may experience it as light spotting or vaginal discharge for one or two days, while there are some who may get heavy bleeding that continues for a week or more. This kind of bleeding may occur from any part of the reproductive tract that includes vagina, cervix and uterus.
There are several gynecological factors that can trigger this kind of abnormal vaginal bleeding. Some of the most commonly found causes are as follows:
- Dysfunctional uterine bleeding: This bleeding from the uterus is not triggered by ovulation. In fact, it occurs when women do not ovulate. The real cause of this vaginal bleeding is sudden change in hormonal levels.
- Uterine fibroids: These are non cancerous tumors that grow in the uterine wall, which causes heavy bleeding in between periods. It usually develops in women in their childbearing years.
- Vaginitis: This is an infection in the vagina that causes inflammation in the area and results in light vaginal bleeding accompanied by pain and itching. Bacteria, virus, parasites, allergens, chemical irritants, etc. are few of the major causes of this infection. Menopausal women are prone to this infection because of low estrogen levels in their body.
- Emergency contraceptive pills: When a woman takes an emergency contraceptive pill after unprotected sex, then she may get vaginal bleeding soon after that.
- Ectopic pregnancy: In this condition, the fertilized egg gets planted outside the uterus. This is an abnormal pregnancy and it may have to be terminated.
- Miscarriage: It is the sudden termination of pregnancy before the 20th week. It causes heavy vaginal bleeding that lasts for several days.
- Vaginal dryness: Postmenopausal women who are above the age of 60 years may experience bleeding after sexual intercourse because of vaginal dryness.
- Cancer: Various forms of cancer affecting the female reproductive organs like cervical cancer and uterine cancer can cause this problem.
- Other reasons: Sometimes, the cause of vaginal bleeding may lie outside the reproductive tract. Those women who have blood clotting disorder may experience bleeding at the time of ovulation, which is around midway between periods. Women suffering from anemia, leukemia, thyroid problem, etc. often get abnormal vaginal bleeding.
When you visit a doctor with the problem of non-menstrual vaginal bleeding, he/she first conducts a physical examination and studies your medical history, diet, body weight, lifestyle, etc. Blood tests are conducted to check hormonal levels and blood count. If required, doctors may suggest a pregnancy test. Ultrasound, endometrial biopsy, laparoscopy, etc. are few of the other laboratory tests that are carried out to ascertain the exact cause behind this problem.
Birth control pills are most widely used for controlling non-menstrual bleeding. It makes the menstrual cycle regular and reduces the chances of any abnormal vaginal bleeding. In some cases, oral progesterone is also given to stop the bleeding. When the bleeding is accompanied by pain, then it is reduced with the help of non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Bacterial infection in the vagina is treated with oral antibiotics and antibacterial creams. Similarly, fungal infections are cured with antifungal creams. Menopausal women are given estrogen cream for topical application that can reduce the irritation and inflammation associated with vaginitis.
Some of the causes of non-menstrual bleeding require surgical intervention. A large sized uterine fibroid has to be removed with surgery. If there is heavy blood loss from the thick lining of the uterus, then doctors opt for endometrial ablation where the lining of the uterus is destroyed with the help of surgical tools. In cases of growth of malignant tumor inside the uterus, hysterectomy is conducted for complete removal of uterus.
If you observe any of the above signs of abnormal vaginal bleeding, you must report it to your doctor. Even if it is a light spotting, you should not ignore the matter. With timely treatment of non-menstrual bleeding, you can avoid any serious consequences in future.