What Constitutes Abnormal Bleeding?

You know what your period is like. You know what discomfort to expect, how to treat it, when your flow starts and how to manage things every month. But bleeding that happens outside of that can be the reason for concern. Intermenstrual bleeding or spotting is known as abnormal uterine bleeding (or metrorrhagia), and because it is underreported we don’t have an exact number of women that deal with it.

It is estimated that between 3-30% of women worldwide and 1% of women in the U.S. deal with some form of abnormal uterine bleeding, and it can happen for many reasons. Knowing what can lead to abnormal bleeding can help you identify symptoms when you get them, and know when to get help.

Women in Las Vegas, Nevada dealing with abnormal bleeding can find help with Dr. Staci McHale and the staff at New Beginnings OB-GYN. They offer treatment for women of all ages for conditions like abnormal bleeding and a wide variety of gynecological and obstetric needs.

Abnormal bleeding causes

Any bleeding that takes place between periods is considered abnormal bleeding, but the cause of that bleeding can range from minor issues to major complications. The conditions that can cause abnormal bleeding include:

Hormonal Imbalance

Thyroid gland problems, beginning or ending birth control pill use, and dysfunctional ovaries are all issues that can affect the balance of estrogen and progesterone in your body. Any of them can cause spotting.

Pregnancy complications

Miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies (where a fertilized egg attaches outside of the uterus) are complications of pregnancy that can cause bleeding. 

Uterine fibroids

These non-cancerous growths of muscle that form in the uterus are not uncommon for women that have given birth, and may also cause bleeding or spotting. Other non-cancerous growths that can cause these issues include polyps, which grow on the lining of the uterus and cervix.


Abnormal bleeding may be evidence of an infection from conditions like sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). 

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

This condition causes cysts to grow on your ovaries, which can also cause hormonal imbalances. It can also change when you get your period and can make getting pregnant difficult.


Cancer of the cervix, uterus, ovaries, or vagina can lead to abnormal bleeding.

Rare causes of abnormal bleeding include stress, diabetes, weight gain or weight loss, and thyroid disorders.

Signs of abnormal bleeding

Symptoms may vary depending on what’s causing the abnormal bleeding, but common signs include inconsistent periods, bleeding for a week or longer, and heavy bleeding. The hormonal changes women go through going into menopause can also cause many of the same symptoms. Women experiencing any bleeding after menopause should get help.

When you should get help

Anytime you have abnormal vaginal bleeding is a reason for concern, so seeing a specialist is advised to determine the cause. Seek medical help right away if you experience pain, fatigue, dizziness, and fever with abnormal bleeding. As abnormal bleeding is often caused by other issues, treatments will vary depending on the cause. This includes hormones, progestin, and surgical options for conditions like polyps or uterine fibroids. 

The cause of abnormal bleeding could be minor, but getting it checked is the smart option to make sure. If you’re dealing with any bleeding between periods, make an appointment with Dr. McHale and New Beginnings OB-GYN today.

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