When to See a Doctor about Abnormal Bleeding

Any type of abnormal bleeding, whether it’s spotting between periods or an excessively heavy menstrual cycle, can cause concern. Abnormal vaginal bleeding is different from normal menstrual periods and may signal an issue with your reproductive system or another medical condition that’s affecting your reproductive system. 

It’s best to avoid self-diagnosing and schedule an appointment with one of our expert providers at Capital Women’s Care to get to the bottom of things. If you’re wondering how to know when vaginal bleeding is abnormal and warrants a trip to see us, the following information should be helpful.  

Defining abnormal bleeding

Vaginal bleeding is considered abnormal when your flow is lighter or heavier than what is normal for you. It’s also abnormal to experience bleeding when you’re not expecting your period. What is normal varies greatly from woman to woman, so it’s important to know your body and what’s typical for your menstrual cycle.

Causes of abnormal bleeding

Abnormal bleeding has a wide variety of causes. At Capital Women’s Care our providers routinely guide women through diagnosis and treatment for abnormal bleeding. 

After conducting a thorough evaluation, we can identify the cause of your abnormal vaginal bleeding. We find that many things -- including certain medications as well as conditions like pelvic inflammatory disease and polycystic ovary syndrome -- can cause abnormal vaginal bleeding.

We’ll go over your complete medical history and may order some tests to check your hormone levels. Sometimes lifestyle factors, such as excessive exercise, can have an influence on vaginal bleeding. It’s best to come in prepared to discuss your lifestyle, medicines you take, and your medical history.

When to schedule a visit with us

Caring for your sexual and reproductive health plays a role in your overall health. It’s wise to see us whenever you notice a change in your period that lasts for more than two cycles. For instance, if you suddenly find that you’re soaking through tampons or sanitary napkins every two hours, and it happens for two consecutive cycles, it’s a good idea to look into it. Likewise, if you go from a period that normally lasts 5-7 days to one that lasts only 1-2 days, your gynecologist can help you get some answers.

Abnormal bleeding during pregnancy

You should always contact us immediately if you have vaginal bleeding while you’re pregnant. Light bleeding or spotting is common during pregnancy, especially during the first trimester. While it’s usually nothing serious, it’s crucial for us to check on you and the baby. Most women who experience some spotting go on to have a normal pregnancy.

Keep in mind though, that heavy bleeding during pregnancy is not normal and may be the result of complications, such as an ectopic pregnancy. Abnormal bleeding late in a pregnancy can signal more serious complications with your baby.

Postmenopausal women

If you’ve already reached menopause – which means it’s been a year or more since you’ve had your last period – see your doctor if you experience bleeding and you’re not taking hormone therapy. If you’ve reached menopause and are taking hormone therapy, you may experience some vaginal bleeding for a few days a month. For women taking a cyclic hormone therapy regimen this is known as withdrawal bleeding. 

Postmenopausal women taking low-dose estrogen and progestin may experience light bleeding for the first six months of therapy as well.

Why is it important to see a doctor?

The main reason to come in to see us when you experience abnormal bleeding is to rule out more serious causes. And certain types of abnormal bleeding can have health consequences and impact your quality of life. Excessively heavy periods, known medically as menorrhagia, for example, can lead to anemia and interfere with your day-to-day activities. If you’re experiencing abnormal bleeding, it’s important to get answers and treatment.

Our providers at Capital Women’s Care provide top-quality obstetric and gynecological care to women in and near Arlington and McLean, Virginia. To get answers to your questions and concerns about abnormal bleeding, contact the office nearest you to schedule an appointment. Our online scheduling tool offers a convenient way to book your visit.

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