Abnormal Vaginal Bleeding

Fact Checked

Abnormal vaginal bleeding is bleeding from the vagina that occurs at the wrong time of the month or in inappropriate amounts. Metrorrhagia or menorrhagia during a menstrual period should always be a concern as it may denote a serious underlying condition but on its own, it is usually harmless. Metrorrhagia pertains to uterine bleeding at irregular intervals, particularly between anticipated menstrual periods. On the other hand, menorrhagia refers to the extreme or extended vaginal bleeding that occurs during the periodic menstrual cycle. Both metrorrhagia and menorrhagia are considered abnormal vaginal bleeding.

In contrast, normal vaginal bleeding occurs as part of every woman’s normal menstrual cycle that implicates an intricate series of hormonal changes in the body. When the egg is released from the ovary, the egg is either fertilized by the sperm and implants in the uterus or the uterine lining sheds. As a result of the shedding, the periodic menstrual bleeding occurs. The normal menstrual cycle is 28 days plus or minus seven days that typically lasts from two to seven days. Blood and fluid loss is averagely five tablespoons but can range from two to eight tablespoons. Cycle length and amount of blood and fluid loss change with age.

What Causes Abnormal Vaginal Bleeding?

Abnormal vaginal bleeding can be caused by a variety of causes, some ranging from mild causes, while others are a result from serious infection.

  • If during pregnancy,
    • Minimal spotting should be anticipated but should still be checked by a doctor
    • Miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy, especially before 12 weeks of pregnancy
    • Placenta previa, especially after 12 weeks of pregnancy
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Ovulation
  • Certain medications such as birth control pills
  • Infection of pelvic organs, frequently caused by sexually transmitted infections
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Use of intrauterine device
  • Foreign object in the vagina
  • Sexual abuse
  • Structural problems in the female genitals
  • Cancer
  • Postpartum or abortion

What Symptoms are Associated with Abnormal Vaginal Bleeding?

The following symptoms may or may not be associated with abnormal vaginal bleeding:

  • Presence of blood in the underwear, bed clothes, on the tissue paper, or on the toilet
  • Extra use of pads or tampons than normal
  • Abdominal cramps

How is First Aid Applied for Cases of Abnormal Vaginal Bleeding?

First Aid

Treatment will depend on the underlying cause. Always seek medical advice from a gynaecologist for proper diagnosis. Apply first aid in cases for abnormal vaginal bleeding to reduce discomfort.

  • Ensure that the bleeding is coming from the vagina and not the urine or rectum. A tampon may be used to make sure bleeding is indeed from the vagina.
  • For heavy bleeding, take plenty of rest. Note the number of pads or tampons used.
  • Do not take aspirin as it may extend vaginal bleeding.
  • Hormonal treatments may be necessary.
  • For cases of infection, antibiotics are essential.
  • In some cases, surgery may be required.

In cases such as these, a keen eye for symptoms is necessary to help in making proper diagnosis. To learn about how to recognize symptoms and apply first aid for abnormal vaginal bleeding and other bleedings in the body, enrol in First Aid Courses.

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