Several different symptoms of vaginal bleeding indicate that it has become abnormal. These excessive amounts of blood or bleeding at unusual times.
The types of vaginal bleeding include:
- Menorrhagia, heavy menstrual bleeding
- Polymenorrhea, periods occurring less than 21 days apart
- Metrorrhagia, bleeding between periods
Signs of abnormal vaginal bleeding include:
- Spotting or bleeding between periods
- Heavy bleeding – soaking through sanitary pads every two to three hours and passing large clots
- A period that lasts longer than normal or more than seven days
- Bleeding after sex
- A cycle lasting less than 28 days or more than 35 days (depending on age)
- Bleeding after menopause
It is important to know that bleeding is not in the urine or coming from the rectum, which could be symptoms of other problems. Vaginal bleeding is verified by use of a tampon.
Doctors recommend that women keep a diary of symptoms to help diagnose problems of vaginal bleeding. The diary should record when periods begin and end, the number of tampons or pads used and if they are soaked, when bleeding occurs between periods or after sex, and any other symptoms.
The Prognosis of Vaginal Bleeding
The prognosis for vaginal bleeding depends on the underlying cause. Normal bleeding during a woman’s monthly period concludes within four to seven days. Unusually heavy or prolonged periods, bleeding between periods or during pregnancy may indicate a more serious problem.
Dysfunctional uterine bleeding may cause anemia, but usually can be managed with hormone therapy. Uterine fibroids, non-cancerous tumors in the womb, may be treated with hormones, supplements or surgery. Endometriosis, a condition in which uterine cells grow in other areas of the body, may require removal of the womb, fallopian tubes and the ovaries (a hysterectomy).
An ectopic pregnancy, occurring outside the womb, can be life threatening to the mother and always results in termination of the fetus. However, many women may later have a normal pregnancy.
Given that some vaginal bleeding may be a symptom of a more serious disorder, a doctor should be consulted immediately in the event of any abnormal bleeding.