Vaginal Bleeding

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Vaginal bleeding facts

  • Normal vaginal bleeding is the periodic blood flow from the uterus.
  • Normal vaginal bleeding is also called menorrhea. The process by which menorrhea occurs is called menstruation.
  • In order to determine whether bleeding is abnormal, and its cause, the doctor must answer 3 questions: Is the woman pregnant? What is the pattern of the bleeding? Is she ovulating?
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding in women who are ovulating regularly most commonly involves excessive, frequent, irregular, or decreased bleeding.
  • There are many causes of abnormal vaginal bleeding that are associated with irregular ovulation.
  • A woman who has irregular menstrual periods requires a physical examination with a special emphasis on the thyroid, breast, and pelvic organs.
  • Treatment for irregular vaginal bleeding depends on the underlying cause. After the cause is determined, the doctor decides if treatment is actually necessary.

What is normal vaginal bleeding?

Normal vaginal bleeding is the periodic blood that flows as a discharge from the woman's uterus. Normal vaginal bleeding is also called menorrhea. The process by which menorrhea occurs is called menstruation.

Normal vaginal bleeding occurs as a result of cyclic hormonal changes. The ovaries are the main source of female hormones, which control the development of female body characteristics such as the breasts, body shape, and body hair. The hormones also regulate the menstrual cycle. The ovary, or female gonad, is one of a pair of reproductive glands in women. They are located in the pelvis, one on each side of the uterus. Each ovary is about the size and shape of an almond. The ovaries produce eggs (ova) and female hormones. During each monthly menstrual cycle, an egg is released from one ovary. The egg travels from the ovary through a Fallopian tube to the uterus.

Unless pregnancy occurs, the cycle ends with the shedding of part of the inner lining of uterus, which results in menstruation. Although it is actually the end of the physical cycle, the first day of menstrual bleeding is designated as "day 1" of the menstrual cycle in medical jargon.

The time of the cycle during which menstruation occurs is referred to as menses. The menses occurs at approximately four week intervals, representing the menstrual cycle.

Menarche is the time in a girl's life when menstruation first begins. Menopause is the time in a woman's life when the function of the ovaries ceases and menstrual periods stop. Menopause is defined as the absence of menstrual periods for 12 consecutive months. The average age of menopause is 51 years old.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/17/2015

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Vaginal Bleeding - Causes Question: If you ovulate regularly, what is the cause of your abnormal vaginal bleeding?
Vaginal Bleeding - Post Menopause Question: What were the reasons for your post-menopausal vaginal bleeding?
Vaginal Bleeding - Intercourse Question: Have you experienced vaginal bleeding after intercourse? Did you see a doctor? What was the diagnosis?
Vaginal Bleeding - Tests Question: What types of tests and exams did you undergo to evaluate your abnormal vaginal bleeding?
Vaginal Bleeding - Treatment Question: What types of treatment, medication, or surgery did you receive for irregular vaginal bleeding?

Pelvic Pain and Vaginal Bleeding

Depending on the cause, pelvic pain can be acute and sudden in onset, or the pain can be chronic and longstanding. The characteristics of the pain -- location, timing, duration, etc., are important in diagnosing its cause along with any associated symptoms such as vaginal discharge or bleeding. Some types of pelvic pain may only be apparent at certain times, such as during sexual activity or during urination. Persisting pelvic pain should be evaluated by a physician.