Are you experiencing postmenopausal bleeding? You are not alone.
Postmenopausal bleeding is a significant issue for many women. In fact, around 4 percent to 11 percent of postmenopausal women suffer from this condition.
The good news is that postmenopausal bleeding can be successfully treated.
There are several causes of postmenopausal bleeding. And some of the causes might be a sign that something serious is going on inside your body.
Please note that the information we give here is for educational purpose only. Hence, you shouldn’t take it as medical advice and should always speak to your health care provider before following any treatment plan.
What Should You Know About Postmenopausal Bleeding?
A woman is said to be in menopause if she has not had a menstrual period for one year.
If you are going through postmenopausal bleeding, you should visit your doctor as soon as possible to exclude serious health problems.
Vaginal bleeding can occur due to many reasons, such as postmenopausal bleeding and regular menstrual cycles. However, these are not the only causes.
Other reasons for bleeding include urinary tract infections, cervical cancer, or trauma.
If you are postmenopausal and having vaginal bleeding, your doctor may ask about the amount of blood and any other pain you might be having.
Causes of Postmenopausal Bleeding
Postmenopausal women can experience bleeding for a number of reasons. Vaginal bleeding may occur in women going through hormone replacement therapy.
It is also possible for a menopausal woman to start ovulating. Bleeding may take place if this happens.
There are other conditions which can also lead to postmenopausal bleeding. Some of these are: Cervical cancer, endometrial cancer, medications, and uterine polyps.
While bleeding after menopause is harmless, it can be an indication of cervical cancer that has a tendency to progress slowly. Fortunately, cervical cancer is easily detectable with a routine pap smear.
And visiting your gynecologist annually for a checkup can help diagnose cervical cancer early and even prevent it.
Besides bleeding, other symptoms associated with this cancer include abnormal vaginal discharge and pain during sexual intercourse.
Endometrial cancer can be detected in the initial stages by the presence of abnormal bleeding. Your doctor will treat the condition by removing the uterus.
You may not be aware, but about 10 percent of women who experience postmenopausal bleeding suffer from endometrial cancer.
Yes, bleeding can happen as a side effect of some medicines, such as blood thinners, tamoxifen, and hormone therapy. So, always make sure you talk to your doctor before you take any medicines.
Uterine polyps are benign (noncancerous) growths. However, some uterine polyps may become cancerous. Women suffering from uterine polyps usually experience irregular bleeding.
While polyps are especially common in menopausal women, younger women, too, can suffer from uterine polyps.
Sexually transmitted diseases
Chlamydia and gonorrhea may lead to bleeding and spotting after sexual intercourse. Chlamydia and gonorrhea are bacterial and can be treated with antibiotics.
Additionally, genital sores caused by herpes, which is a virus, can also bleed. Antiviral medications can treat herpes, but this condition has no actual cure.
Endometrial hyperplasia is an abnormal thickening of the uterine lining (endometrium) and leads to postmenopausal bleeding.
You should know that the chances of endometrial hyperplasia increases with the prolonged use of estrogen. If left untreated, endometrial hyperplasia can cause uterine cancer.
Endometrial atrophy is the thinning of the uterine lining.
Postmenopausal women can experience this condition. Bleeding may take place as the endometrial lining thins.
Symptoms That Often Accompany Postmenopausal Bleeding
Postmenopausal women can experience symptoms such as decreased libido, weight gain, insomnia, urinary tract infections, and vaginal dryness in addition to bleeding.
Endometrial Cancer and Postmenopausal Bleeding
The incidence of endometrial cancer has risen in recent years. The disease is expected to continue rising globally over the coming years.
It is thought that the increase is largely due to factors that affect hormones, such as increasing rates of obesity.
However, if the cancer is detected early, a woman has a 95 percent chance of surviving it for 5 years.
On the other hand, women diagnosed after cancer has spread to other parts of the body, have a 16-45 percent chance of surviving the disease for 5 years.
A comprehensive study investigated the relationship between postmenopausal bleeding and endometrial cancer in postmenopausal women.
The researchers involved in the study found that 90 percent of women who had endometrial cancer experienced bleeding before the diagnosis of cancer.
How to Diagnose Postmenopausal Bleeding?
Your physician may analyze your medical history and perform a physical examination. In addition, they may also do a pap smear test for the screening of cervical cancer.
Other tests may be done to examine your uterus and vagina. These tests may include the following:
This test is used to measure the polyp size. In this procedure, a saltwater solution is put inside your uterus to produce a clear ultrasound image.
This procedure lets your physician view your cervix, uterus, and ovaries. It involves the insertion of a device into your vagina.
Sometimes, you may have to insert the probe yourself.
Dilation and curettage
This procedure involves the opening of the cervix and scraping a sample of the endometrium. The sample is sent to a lab to check for cancer and polyps.
The physician uses a thin tube to take a sample of the tissue lining your uterus. After that, the sample is sent to a lab for analysis.
In this procedure, your physician inserts a thin tube into your vagina to examine the inside of the uterus and the cervix.
What Are the Treatments for Postmenopausal Bleeding?
If there is no suspicion for cancer, treatment for postmenopausal bleeding will depend on the nature of bleeding and the presence of other symptoms.
- If postmenopausal bleeding is due to atrophy and thinning of vaginal tissues, the health care provider may recommend you to use estrogen cream.
- You may also have to undergo Polyp removal surgery.
- Your physician may also prescribe you progestin hormone therapy if your endometrial tissue has grown excessively. This therapy can decrease bleeding and reduce tissue overgrowth.
- Hysterectomy: A hysterectomy involves the removal of your uterus. There are different options for the type of hysterectomy depending on your own personal situation.
On the other hand, if postmenopausal bleeding is because of cancer, then the treatment will depend on the cancer’s type and its progression. Treatment for cervical or endometrial cancer includes radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and surgery.
How to Prevent Postmenopausal Bleeding?
It is important to note that your bleeding may be a consequence of cancer or may be benign (i.e., noncancerous). If you experience unusual vaginal bleeding, visit your doctor to determine a diagnosis and discuss a treatment plan.
It is also important to know that early detection of cancers increases the chances of survival manifold.
And it’s worth mentioning that the best way to prevent postmenopausal bleeding is to decrease the risk factors for the condition causing it.
Here are a few things that you can do to stop postmenopausal bleeding. We hope you will find them helpful.
- Go for hormone replacement therapy if your doctor recommends it. It may help prevent endometrial cancer. Also, be aware of the cons of this therapy and discuss them with your health care provider. We will talk about the pros and cons later.
- Prevent endometrial atrophy from developing into cancer by treating the condition early.
- Visit your gynecologist for regular screenings, which can also help to identify conditions before they result in postmenopausal bleeding.
- Exercise regularly and make healthy lifestyle choices. A healthy lifestyle can help prevent a host of conditions throughout your body. Eat lean protein, vegetables, healthy fats, and fruits to get the nutrients your body needs.
Pros and cons of hormone replacement therapy
Benefits of hormone replacement therapy include treating vaginal dryness, preventing weakening of the bones, alleviating hot flashes, and decreasing the risk of colon cancer.
Some of the risks of hormone replacement therapy include an increased risk of stroke, heart attack, deep vein thrombosis, and breast cancer.
Finally, keeping all these points in mind will help you deal with your condition better.
Make Your Health a Priority
Yes, taking care of your health is as important as your other responsibilities. So, if you are experiencing postmenopausal bleeding, don’t ignore it. Speak to your doctor immediately.
It’s important for you to know that timely treatment and a correct diagnosis can save you from any serious complications. Therefore, you should visit your doctor regularly and maintain a well-balanced lifestyle.
Regularly consulting your health care provider can help identify issues and complications early, which will make the chance of a successful cure better.
Are you experiencing postmenopausal bleeding or any other health issues? Visit your doctor right now. Also, please feel free to share your experiences in the comments section below.