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Do you experience irregular vaginal bleeding and figure it is just something you have to live with? It is not. For some, vaginal bleeding is minor and tolerable; for others, it is annoying and even debilitating. Irregular vaginal bleeding can be an indication of a medical problem. Although some women may choose to just live with it, there are many options to treat irregular vaginal bleeding and improve your quality of life.
Irregular bleeding is bleeding that occurs outside a normal monthly menstrual period. This type of bleeding may include spotting of small amounts of blood between periods or extremely heavy periods.
There are a variety of causes that can lead to irregular bleeding. It can be caused by an issue with your reproductive system, other medical problems or certain medications. It also can be a sign of an underlying medical issue.
Normal menstruation typically occurs every 21 to 35 days and lasts for seven or less days. There is a large range of what can be considered a normal menstrual cycle. It is normal for there to be some variation from cycle to cycle, and a woman’s menstrual cycle often changes over the course of her life.
Determining if vaginal bleeding is normal depends on your age and circumstances.
Vaginal bleeding is common among:
- Newborn girls
- Women starting birth control pills
- Women nearing menopause
Although these situations likely are normal, you should speak with your health care provider if you are concerned.
- Vaginal bleeding is not common if you are:
- Under age 8 without any other signs of puberty
If you experience vaginal bleeding under these conditions, you should contact your doctor immediately.
What can you do?
Irregular bleeding should be evaluated if it persists for more than a few months to see if there is an underlying medical problem that needs to be addressed. There are many options to treat irregular bleeding. If there is an underlying medical problem causing the bleeding, this will be addressed first.
Common options to treat irregular bleeding include:
- If overweight, losing weight
- Hormonal medications, such as birth control, to regulate irregular periods
- Surgical options if the irregular bleeding persists despite medication
There are special circumstances where irregular bleeding should be treated sooner rather than later to prevent other complications later in life. If you are concerned about irregular bleeding, it is important to consult with your health care provider immediately.
Jennifer Willette, M.D., Obstetrics & Gynecology, cares for patients at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire and Osseo, Wisconsin.