If you experience vaginal bleeding, however light or brief, a year or more after your final period, then you are suffering from postmenopausal vaginal bleeding. For some women, it can sometimes be scary or worrying because it is so unexpected.
There are a number of reasons why bleeding can happen and most are not worth worrying about, but it is important you know the difference between typical causes and serious conditions. In most cases no serious problem is found; however, it is advisable to see your doctor before ruling anything out. Read on to find out six of the most common reasons for postmenopausal vaginal bleeding.
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
Women taking HRT to smooth the menopausal transition may find that a change in the dosage either to a stronger dose or by gradually weaning off the drugs during postmenopause comes with similar side effects to natural hormonal changes in the body. The lining of the uterus can be stimulated by these hormones, building up and shedding, resulting in postmenopausal bleeding similar to menstruation.
Commonly known as vaginal dryness, atrophic vaginitis is the result of permanent changes to the lining of the vagina due to reduced levels of estrogen during postmenopause. The vaginal walls become drier, thinner and less elastic, which can lead to inflammation. This condition is one of the most common causes of vaginal bleeding during postmenopause.
These are growths of tissue on the lower part of the uterus connecting to the cervix, or the cervical canal, which cause bleeding. Very rarely there will be abnormal, precancerous, or cancerous cells in the polyp, but tests can be taken to check for these. Cervical polyps are very common in postmenopausal women.
A lack of estrogen causes the lining of the uterus to thin and the vessels in the lining to break down, which in turn results in spontaneous postmenopausal bleeding or spotting.
Drastic weight loss can cause postmenopausal bleeding. Estrogen relies on fat cells in the body, so if body fat is lost then the estrogen that is contained is released into the blood stream, and a woman will experience a sudden dip in estrogen levels. This hormonal imbalance may cause postmenopausal bleeding.
If a woman experiences a particularly stressful, anxious, or emotional time, hormones surge unexpectedly, causing spontaneous bleeding in postmenopause.
Always visit your doctor if you are experiencing postmenopausal bleeding, no matter how heavy or light the bleed is, in order to rule out more serious causes such as endometrial, ovarian or cervical cancers. Follow this link to find out more about postmenopausal treatments available.