Abnormal Bleeding: What is Normal Anyway?

As a woman, you have no doubt dealt with menstrual bleeding your whole life. You probably know a thing or two about periods and by adulthood, you know what to expect from your body. It’s true that every woman’s body and cycle is different, but over the years you have most likely developed a menstrual bleeding pattern that you have come to understand. But when things start to be a bit off for you, you may be left wondering if the changes you are going through are normal for your stage of womanhood.

So how do you know if the bleeding you are experiencing is normal or abnormal bleeding?  The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has defined a set of characteristics that can tell you if you are experiencing abnormal bleeding:

  • Bleeding or spotting between periods
  • Bleeding that occurs after sex
  • Bleeding that has become heavier or lasts more days than your normal
  • Bleeding that occurs after menopause
  • Bleeding that occurs in a cycle that is more than 35 days or less than 21 days (most menstrual cycles are 28 days)

At What Age Does Abnormal Bleeding Happen?

The female body is so fantastic, beautiful and complicated that even a woman living inside her body may not fully understand what is happening at all phases of her womanhood. We all remember the confusion that accompanied our first periods. And then – just when we thought we had it all figured out – something changed. If you’ve recently experienced a change in your uterine bleeding patterns, these changes could be caused by normal changes in the reproductive cycle. The first few years a woman has her period, she may experience inconsistent bleeding. After this time, a woman should begin to understand what is normal for her. Changes will take place again following pregnancy. Then, around the time of menopause, it becomes normal to skip periods or for bleeding to be lighter or heavier at more unpredictable times.

What Causes Abnormal Bleeding?

If you are experiencing abnormal bleeding and you haven’t recently had a child or aren’t approaching menopause, you should first ask yourself if you could be pregnant. This confusing bleeding could be related to pregnancy, miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy. Birth control pills and IUDs can also change menstrual bleeding patterns. If pregnancy or contraception aren’t the culprits for your abnormal bleeding, it could be caused by fibroids, polyps, polycystic ovarian syndrome or certain types of cancer of the uterus, cervix or vagina.

How is Abnormal Bleeding Treated?

If you’re concerned about abnormal bleeding and want to know how it is treated, tune in to the blog next week. We will be talking more about medications and surgeries that can help treat the uncomfortable symptoms of abnormal bleeding. If you need the information more urgently, please reach out to one of our patient coordinators at 844.593.MIRI (6474) or fill out the form to the right to have us contact you.


American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2012, December). Abnormal Uterine Bleeding. Retrieved from http://www.acog.org/~/media/ForPatients/faq095.pdf

Content Sponsored by: MIRI Women – The Minimally Invasive Reproductive Surgery Institute (MIRI) brings together highly skilled, board-certified specialists who are focused on women’s health. Our team of professionals is trained in advanced gynecology, specifically hysterectomy surgery. Philosophically, our partner physicians take a “less is more” approach to health care, by first treating patients with the most conservative therapies. MIRI focuses on physical healing, while emphasizing that a patient’s emotional well-being is just as important.

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