Abnormal uterine bleeding: Reason to worry

Jul 12, 2010 at 2:06 p.m. ET

Affecting more than 10 million women, abnormal uterine bleeding (AUB) accounts for approximately one-third of all visits to the gynecologist. SheKnows spoke with New York-based gynecologist Dr. Steven Goldstein, author of Could it be… Perimenopause? and The Estrogen Alternative, to learn more about AUB and when to be worried about abnormal uterine bleeding.

Woman with bad cramps

What is abnormal uterine bleeding (AUB)?

Abornomal uterine bleeding, also known as dysfunctional uterine bleeding, is any irregular bleeding from the vagina: bleeding between periods, bleeding after sex, spotting anytime in the menstrual cycle, bleeding heavier or for more days than normal or bleeding after menopause.

What causes AUB?

Abnormal uterine bleeding can have many causes. Some causes are minor, such as stress or weight fluctuations, while others can be more serious.

Some of the most common causes of AUB include:

  • Pregnancy
  • Miscarriage
  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • Problems linked to birth control methods
  • Infection of the uterus or cervix
  • Fibroids
  • Problems with blood clotting
  • Polyps
  • Certain types of cancers, such as cancer of the uterus, cervix or vagina
  • Chronic medical conditions like diabetes or thyroid problems

Diagnosis and treatment of AUB

Finding the cause is the first step in treatment, but AUB remains one of the most difficult conditions to diagnose. New, minimally invasive procedures, such as a sonohysterography, a diagnostic ultrasound of the female pelvic organs, may help physicians with diagnoses in the future.

Up next: 5 Questions with an Abornomal Uterine Bleeding specialist >>

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