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What Causes Vaginal Bleeding during Menopause?

When menopause symptoms first start, a woman is said to be in the perimenopause stage. After periods have ceased completely for 12 months, a woman is then said to be postmenopausal. Once this has happened, any vaginal bleeding is considered abnormal and should be checked out immediately, as it could be a sign of a more serious condition. However, during perimenopause, vaginal bleeding or spotting outside of the normal monthly cycle is fairly common. As the hormone levels fluctuate, regular flow can change, becoming heavier or lighter.

What Causes Vaginal Bleeding during Menopause?
1

Fibroids

Fibroids are non-cancerous tumors of the uterus, and they sometimes grow just outside as well. When these growths generally do not present outward symptoms, they tend to go unnoticed. However, when they do produce signs, heavy or irregular and painful periods is one of the most common. Fibroids are a common occurrence in women who are not postmenopausal as they are linked to high levels of estrogen, but they are even more likely to affect those between the ages of 30 and 50. They vary considerably in size, from being as small as a pea to as large as a melon.

2

Thyroid Problems

Thyroid problems can be a slightly less common cause of vaginal bleeding in between periods. An overactive thyroid gland is called hyperthyroidism, while an underactive gland is called hypothyroidism. Both types are linked with an absence of periods, but hypothyroidism is also connected with heavy menstruation. Thyroid problems need specific treatment, so if you think you might have an issue with either condition, book an appointment to see your doctor.

3

Cervical Polyps

These are generally small, finger-like growths on the cervix - the part of the uterus that connects to the vagina - that are a red or purple color. Symptoms include heavy menstruation as well as bleeding after sexual intercourse or in between periods. They are generally benign (non-cancerous) and relatively easy to remove without invasive methods. Often, the doctor can just carefully twist them if they are small. For larger ones, a heat-based process called electrocautery might be required. There is also likely to be bleeding and slight discomfort after the removal, but this is completely normal.

If you are suffering from abnormal vaginal bleeding during menopause, it is always a good idea to get checked out by your doctor to make sure it is just part of the change and not a sign of an underlying health issue. In order to be able to tell if the bleeding is irregular or not, it is advisable to keep track of your monthly cycle. It is also possible that certain forms of oral contraceptives can cause intermittent vaginal bleeding, so discuss this with your doctor as well.

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Sources:
  • Harvard Health Publications. (n.d.). Abnormal uterine bleeding in peri- and postmenopausal women. Retrieved January 27, 2015, from http://www.harvardhealthcontent.com/newsletters/69,W0111b
  • Lee, J.R. (1996). What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause. New York. Warner Books. P.221
  • National Health Service UK. (2013). Fibroids. Retrieved January 27, 2015, from http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Fibroids/Pages/Introduction.aspx
  • National Institute of Health. (2014). Cervical Polyps. Retrieved January 27, 2015, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001494.htm