Tiffany Casper, D.O.
Family Medicine, Prenatal Care
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Do you experience irregular vaginal bleeding and figure it is something you must live with? It's not.
For some people, vaginal bleeding is minor and tolerable. For others, it's bothersome and even debilitating. Irregular vaginal bleeding can be an indication of a medical problem. Although some women may choose to live with it, many options are available to treat irregular vaginal bleeding and improve your quality of life.
Irregular bleeding is bleeding that occurs outside a regular 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.
What's considered regular menstruation?
Regular menstruation typically occurs every 21 to 35 days and lasts seven or fewer days. There is a large range of what can be considered a regular menstrual cycle. It's usual 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 your vaginal bleeding is typical depends on your age and circumstances.
Vaginal bleeding is common among:
- Newborn girls
- Women starting birth control pills
- Women nearing menopause
Although bleeding in these situations likely is not unusual, you should speak with your health care team if you're concerned.
Vaginal bleeding isn't common if you're:
- Under age 8 without any other signs of puberty
If you experience vaginal bleeding under these conditions, immediately contact your health care professional.
What can you do about irregular bleeding?
Irregular bleeding should be evaluated if it persists for more than a few months to see if an underlying medical problem needs to be addressed. There are many options to treat irregular bleeding. If an underlying medical problem is causing the bleeding, this will be addressed first.
Common options to treat irregular bleeding include:
- Losing weight if the person is overweight
- Using hormonal medications, such as birth control, to regulate irregular periods
- Exploring surgical options if the irregular bleeding persists despite medication
In certain circumstances, irregular bleeding should be treated as soon as possible to prevent other complications later in life. If you're concerned about irregular bleeding, it's important to immediately consult with your health care team.
By Mayo Clinic Health System staff.