Abnormal Vaginal Bleeding

Is Aunt Flo coming too frequently?   Is she bringing more and more baggage each visit?  

If you are having problems with frequent and/or heavy menses it is time to talk.  Bleeding after sex, bleeding between menstrual cycles.  These are all symptoms that can usually be helped with medical treatments.  We rarely recommend surgical treatments but sometimes it is the best or only option.  The bottom line is that there are many treatments available for abnormal bleeding and most don’t involve surgery.  

First let’s define a normal menstrual period:  Normal menses are every 26-35 days and they last 2-7 days with most days requiring minimal protection.    If you are changing pads every hour and they are soaked that is not normal, even if it is for only one day.   If you are missing school or work due to cramping or need to change pads and tampons frequently that is too much.  If you are going home to change clothes because you “leaked” through your pad or tampon that is way too much.   If you are bleeding more than 7 days per month that is also too much.  IF you are in menopause and start bleeding that is clearly abnormal and will always require evaluation.    

Now that we have defined normal Flo visits, it is much easier to determine if she is overstaying her welcome or bringing too much baggage along.  

If you believe that your menses are abnormal come in and let’s discuss normal and your cycle symptoms.   Most treatments do not involve surgery and do not affect your fertility so don’t suffer needlessly.   No matter your age or life situation we have options that may help.  

Before you start any treatment, we need to review your symptoms, your medical history, and even your family history.  We will perform a careful exam including a pelvic exam for most.   We will usually order blood tests to determine if there are medical issues causing the abnormal bleeding.  Sometimes we will order an ultrasound to determine if there are fibroids or polyps causing the bleeding. 

Treatments might include simply adjusting medications, thyroid treatments or hormones to decrease bleeding.  Sometimes hormone treatments are best delivered locally with an intrauterine device. This is also used for birth control so it may be your best choice if birth control is desired.   If you are in menopause we will need to do more extensive testing because bleeding may be a sign of cancer.  We don’t find cancer frequently but if we do, we prefer to find it early when it is usually easily treated.   Sometimes surgical options are recommended.  We have minimally invasive surgical options available, some are even performed in our office.  

Don’t suffer. We have options. As women providers of health care for women we understand what you are going through.   Come and learn which options might be best for you.

Author
Elizebeth Harmon, MD, MBA FACOG About Dr. Harmon Gynecologist and Founder of Salem Women's Clinic, Inc. Education & Training: BA, Linfield College MD, Oregon Health Sciences University Residency: OB/GYN, Geisinger Medical Center Board Certified, American Board of Obstetrics & Gynecology (ABOG) since 1990 Instructor for OHSU Physician Assistant Program Personal Interests: When Dr. Harmon is not busy at Salem Women's Clinic, she can be found making doll clothes and providing dolls for children in foster care, making pies, mentoring future physicians, quilting, knitting, sewing, rollerblading, and reading. Family Dr. Harmon has been married to her husband, Jeff, for over 30 years. They have four sons.

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