During your reproductive years, menstrual bleeding is a normal and natural part of life, starting in your teens and lasting until you reach menopause. How much bleeding may vary from cycle to cycle, but you generally know what to expect and how to manage it.
Abnormal bleeding (when bleeding occurs between cycles) can happen for a variety of reasons, and up to a third of women experience it in their lifetime.
Abnormal bleeding can be a symptom of a variety of cancers, but because there are many non-cancerous causes, it’s important to look at the different symptoms outside of bleeding that can indicate what you may be dealing with.
To explore this, let’s examine common reasons for abnormal bleeding, what signs may indicate cancer, and what treatments are available.
Residents of the Lake Mary, Florida, area looking for treatment of abnormal vaginal bleeding or other related conditions can find help with OB/GYN Dr. Christopher Quinsey and our skilled medical team.
Reasons for abnormal vaginal bleeding
Also referred to as intermenstrual bleeding, spotting, and metrorrhagia, this type of bleeding can happen for many reasons, including:
The estrogen and progesterone that regulates your menstrual cycle can be thrown into imbalances from starting and stopping birth control (pills, intrauterine devices or IUDs, contraceptive patches, and implants), dysfunctional ovaries, and thyroid gland issues.
Complications from pregnancy
Miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies (when the fertilized egg attaches outside of the uterus) can lead to bleeding.
Also known as leiomyomas, myomas, uterine myomas, and fibromas, these are noncancerous growths that develop in the uterus. They may cause bleeding or have no symptoms at all.
Many infections can cause inflammation and bleeding, including sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), pelvic inflammatory disease, vaginitis, endometritis, and cervicitis.
This is a condition that causes the lining of your uterus to grow outside of it, leading to painful periods, painful intercourse, abnormal and excessive bleeding, and infertility.
Signs of cancer and treatment
Cancer may be the cause of abnormal bleeding if it is also combined with other symptoms. There are different types of cancer to consider:
- Vaginal cancer — vaginal mass or lump, pelvic pain, painful urination, frequent urination, constipation, and watery vaginal discharge
- Endometrial cancer — pelvic pain, non-bloody discharge, vaginal mass or lump, weight loss
- Uterine sarcoma — a rare cancer that presents with a smelly discharge, constipation, a feeling of fullness in your abdomen, mass or lump, and frequent urination
The only type of vaginal cancer that doesn’t present with bleeding is vulvar cancer. These cancers can be treated with radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and surgery (including hysterectomy, lymphadenectomy, and laparotomy).
Uterine sarcoma and endometrial cancer may also add immunotherapy, targeted therapy (targeting specific cancer cells) and hormone therapy to treatment.
Vaginal bleeding can indicate a lot of different conditions, but if you think the cause may be cancerous, make an appointment with Dr. Quinsey today for diagnosis and treatment.