Many women experience abnormal vaginal bleeding or spotting between periods sometime in their lives. Vaginal bleeding is considered to be abnormal if it occurs:
Abnormal vaginal bleeding has many possible causes. By itself, it does not necessarily indicate a serious condition.
Other, less common causes of abnormal vaginal bleeding that may be more serious include:
Heavy bleeding during the first few weeks after delivery (postpartum) or after an abortion may occur because the uterus has not contracted to the prepregnancy size or because fetal tissue remains in the uterus (retained products of conception).
If you are age 40 or older, abnormal vaginal bleeding may mean that you are entering perimenopause. In a woman who has not had a menstrual period for 12 months, vaginal bleeding is always abnormal and should be discussed with your doctor.
Treatment of abnormal vaginal bleeding depends on the cause of the bleeding.
Use the Check Your Symptoms section to decide if and when you should see a doctor.
There is no home treatment for abnormal vaginal bleeding. With some types of vaginal bleeding, it may be okay to wait to see if the bleeding stops on its own. Be sure to review the Check Your Symptoms section to determine if and when you need to see a doctor. If the bleeding continues or gets worse, a visit to a doctor is needed to determine the reason for the bleeding.
If you are using tampons for abnormal vaginal bleeding, be sure to change them often and do not leave one in place when the bleeding has stopped. A tampon left in the vagina may put you at risk for toxic shock syndrome (TSS). TSS is a rare but life-threatening illness that develops suddenly after a bacterial infection rapidly affects several different organ systems.
Use the Check Your Symptoms section to evaluate your symptoms if any of the following occur during home treatment:
You may be able to prevent abnormal vaginal bleeding.
To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.
You can help your doctor diagnose and treat your condition by being prepared to answer the following questions:
|Primary Medical Reviewer||Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine|
|Primary Medical Reviewer||Martin J. Gabica, MD, MD - Family Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||Deborah A. Penava, BA, MD, FRCSC, MPH - Obstetrics and Gynecology|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine|
|Last Revised||June 10, 2010|
Last Revised: April 10, 2012
This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.