- Vaginal bleeding
Name = Vaginal bleeding
ICD10 = N92-N93
Vaginal bleeding refers to bleeding in females that is either a physiologic response during the non-conceptional
menstrual cycleor caused by hormonal or organic problems of the reproductive system. Vaginal bleeding may occur at any age, but always needs investigation when encountered in female children or postmenopausal women. Vaginal bleeding during pregnancymay indicate a possible pregnancy complication that needs to be medically addressed.
Blood loss "per vaginam" (
Latin: from the vagina) typically arises from the lining of the uterus ( endometrium), but may arise from uterine or cervical lesions, the vagina, and rarely from the Fallopian tube. During pregnancyit is usually but not always related to the pregnancy itself. Rarely, the blood may actually arise from the urinary tract( hematuria), although the vast majority of women can identify the difference. It can also be a sign of vaginal cancer.
Bleeding in Children
Bleeding before the expected time of
menarchecould be a sign of precocious puberty. Other possible causes include the presence of a foreign bodyin the vagina, molestation, vaginal infection ( vaginitis), and rarely, a tumor.
Menstruation. Exceptionally heavy bleeding during periods is termed " menorrhagia" or "hypermenorrhea", while light bleeding is called "hypomenorrhea".
* If bleeding occurs between periods, this is not necessarily pathological, but it is termed "intermenstrual bleeding". If no period can be identified due to the unpredictable bleeding,
Dysfunctional uterine bleedingis a common cause of menorrhagia and irregular bleeding. It is due to a hormonal imbalance, and symptoms can be managed by use of hormonal contraception(although hormonal contraception does not treat the underlying cause of the imbalance). If it is due to polycystic ovary syndrome, weight loss may help, and infertility may respond to clomifene citrate.
Uterine fibroids (leiomyoma) are benign tumors of the uterus.
Cervical cancermay occur at premenopausal age, and often presents with "contact bleeding" (e.g. after sexual intercourse)
Uterine cancerwill lead to irregular and often prolonged bleeding.
pregnancy: mild to moderate blood loss may be due to rupture of a small vein on the outer rim of the placenta. It can also herald a miscarriageor ectopic pregnancy, which is why urgent ultrasound is required to separate the two causes. Bleeding in early pregnancy may be a sign of a threatened or incomplete miscarriage.
In the second or third trimester a
placenta previa(a placenta partially or completely overlying the cervix) may bleed quite severely. Placental abruptionis often associated with uterine bleeding as well as uterine pain.
All vaginal bleeding in postmenopausal women should be medically assessed. The
differential diagnosisis:fact|date=September 2008
* 30% unopposed estrogen
* 30% atrophic endometritis / vaginitis
* 10% endometrial polyps or cervical polyps
* 5% endometrial hyperplasia
* 10% other
The diagnosis can often be made on the basis of the bleeding history, physical examination, and other medical tests as appropriate. Typically a
pregnancy testand additional hormonal tests, a Pap smear, a transvaginal ultrasoundare needed. If bleeding was excessive or prolonged, a CBC may be useful to check for anemia. Abnormal endometrium may have to be investigated by a hysteroscopywith a biopsyor a dilation and curettage.
The treatment will be directed at the cause. Hormonal bleeding problems during the reproductive years, if bothersome to the woman, are frequently managed by use of
combined oral contraceptive pills.
A possible complication from protracted vaginal blood loss is
iron deficiency anemia, which can develop insidiously. Eliminating the cause will resolve the anemia, although some women require ironsupplements or blood transfusions to improve the anemia.
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