When Is a Period Not a Period? What Every Woman Needs to Know About Uterine Bleeding

Women have a love/hate relationship with their menstrual cycle. On the one hand, the process of ovulating and shedding of the lining of the uterus is a monthly reminder that a woman’s body is preparing for the possibility of becoming pregnant. The other side is the cramping and menstrual flow that happens if the egg isn’t fertilized. The whole process is completely natural and normal, but there are definitely times that it’s not fully appreciated, and women simply deal with it. 

But what happens when a period just doesn’t seem right? What if the flow is particularly heavy or it comes in between periods or lasts longer than usual or you bleed after sex or after menopause? All of these circumstances are examples of abnormal uterine bleeding. 

OB/GYN specialist Brandon M. Lingenfelter, DO, PhD, takes care of patients at our practice in Princeton, West Virginia. He offers his insights on what every woman needs to know about abnormal uterine bleeding.

Know what’s abnormal for you

A good place to start this discussion is to acknowledge that every woman is unique. What’s a normal period for one woman may not be normal for another. That’s why keeping track of the duration and frequency of your periods is important. 

Although actual menstrual flow may vary from month to month and it changes as you get closer to menopause, if you become familiar with what’s normal for you, you’ll have an easier time recognizing when something doesn’t seem right. 

If something feels off, trust your instincts and come in to see Dr. Lingenfelter. Abnormal bleeding can be a symptom of an underlying health condition and shouldn’t be ignored.

Possible causes of abnormal bleeding

There are a whole host of factors that can cause abnormal uterine bleeding, ranging from endocrine conditions like thyroid issues and fluctuating hormones to miscarriage or certain types of cancers and infections. Uterine fibroids or polyps may cause unusual bleeding as well. The severity of these problems can vary greatly, making it crucially important to address abnormal uterine bleeding with us right away. 

Treatment plans vary

When you come in for your appointment, Dr. Lingenfelter performs a thorough physical exam and discusses your health history with you. He’ll typically perform a pelvic exam, a Pap smear, and possibly blood and hormone level tests. Depending on his findings, he may get X-rays or an ultrasound, or do a biopsy. 

He uses the results of the tests to determine the cause of abnormal uterine bleeding so that he can create a specific treatment plan that addresses the root cause. Depending on what’s causing your uterine bleeding, he may prescribe medications or other treatments. In some cases of abnormal uterine bleeding, surgery or other procedures may be necessary. These options can include destroying the lining of the uterus or removing fibroids. In some cases, the uterus may be removed altogether with a hysterectomy.

If you’ve noticed that your periods seem particularly heavy or just different for you, make an appointment to see Dr. Lingenfelter at practice in Princeton, West Virginia. Book your appointment online or call today.

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