Many women experience abnormal vaginal bleeding sometime in their lives, according to WebMD. Vaginal bleeding is considered abnormal if it occurs when a women isn’t expecting her menstrual period such as before age 10, when pregnant or after menopause.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) report non-menstrual bleeding can be caused by various problems. Most are benign and treatable. Others could signify cancer. Alone, abnormal vaginal bleeding doesn’t necessarily indicate a serious condition, WebMD added.
NIH lists abnormal vaginal bleeding causes to include uterine fibroids or cervical or uterine polyps; hormone levels changes; cervical inflammation or infection; injury or disease of the vaginal opening; stopping and starting birth control or estrogens; and underactive thyroid.
Other possible causes are cervical cancer, endometritis, ovarian cancer and cysts, pelvic inflammatory disease, polycystic ovary syndrome, tamoxifen side effects, uterine sarcoma, vaginal cancer, vaginitis and diseases like Von Willebrand (blood clotting disorders), according to Mayo Clinic.
Stress, medications such as anticoagulants and hormonal birth control methods and IUD use may sometimes lead to non-menstrual bleeding, according to MedicineNet.com.
Still, others are related to miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy and other pregnancy complications.
Abnormal bleeding may be a sign of very early pregnancy, according to MedicineNet.com. Heavy vaginal bleeding or bleeding that occurs after 12 weeks may indicate a serious problem, such as placenta previa, WebMD said.
For women 40 or older, abnormal vaginal bleeding may mean they’re entering perimenopause, said WebMD. MedicineNet.com said women who take combined estrogen and progesterone hormone therapy may experience some abnormal vaginal bleeding during the first six months of treatment.
Postmenopausal women who take a cyclic hormone regimen may experience some vaginal bleeding similar to a menstrual period for a few days each month. Less frequent but serious causes of vaginal bleeding in postmenopausal women include endometrial cancer or hyperplasia.