Vaginal Bleeding

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

View Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) Slideshow Pictures

Quick GuidePelvic Pain Pictures Slideshow: What's Causing Your Pelvic Pain?

Pelvic Pain Pictures Slideshow: What's Causing Your Pelvic Pain?

What diagnostic tests are used to evaluate abnormal vaginal bleeding?

  • A woman who has irregular menstrual periods requires a physical examination with a special emphasis on the thyroid,breast, and pelvic area. During the pelvic examination, the physician attempts to detect cervical polyps or any unusual masses in the uterus or ovaries.
  • A Pap smear is also done to rule out cervical cancer. While the Pap smear is being obtained, samples might be taken from the cervix to test for the presence of infections such as chlamydia or gonorrhea.
  • A pregnancy test is routine if the woman is premenopausal.
  • A blood count may be done to rule out a low blood count (anemia) resulting from excessive blood loss.
  • If something in the patient's (or her family's) medical background or physical examination raises a doctor's suspicion, tests to rule out certain blood clotting disorders may be done.
  • Sometimes, a blood sample will be tested to evaluate thyroid function, liver function, or kidney function abnormalities.
  • A blood test for progesterone levels or daily body temperature charting may be recommended to verify that the woman ovulates.
  • If the doctor suspects that the ovaries are failing, such as with menopause, blood levels of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) may be tested.
  • Additional blood hormone tests are done if the doctor suspects polycystic ovary, or if excessive hair growth is present.
  • A pelvic ultrasound is often performed based on the woman's medical history and pelvic examination.
  • If a woman does not adequately respond to medical treatment, if she is over age 40, or if she has persistent vaginal bleeding between her periods, a sampling of the lining of her uterus (termed endometrial sampling or endometrial biopsy) is often analyzed. Endometrial sampling helps to rule out cancer or precancer in the uterus, or it can confirm a suspicion that a woman is not ovulating.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/17/2015

Subscribe to MedicineNet's Women's Health Newsletter

By clicking Submit, I agree to the MedicineNet's Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet's subscriptions at any time.

VIEW PATIENT COMMENTS
  • Vaginal Bleeding - Causes

    If you ovulate regularly, what is the cause of your abnormal vaginal bleeding?

    Post View 7 Comments
  • Vaginal Bleeding - Post Menopause

    What were the reasons for your post-menopausal vaginal bleeding?

    Post View 2 Comments
  • Vaginal Bleeding - Intercourse

    Have you experienced vaginal bleeding after intercourse? Did you see a doctor? What was the diagnosis?

    Post View 8 Comments
  • Vaginal Bleeding - Tests

    What types of tests and exams did you undergo to evaluate your abnormal vaginal bleeding?

    Post View 1 Comment
  • Vaginal Bleeding - Treatment

    What types of treatment, medication, or surgery did you receive for irregular vaginal bleeding?

    Post View 2 Comments

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors