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Understanding Abnormal Uterine Bleeding

Abnormal uterine bleeding (AUB) is a condition in which a woman experiences prolonged menstrual bleeding or extremely heavy menstrual bleeding. Irregular bleeding can also happen between monthly periods. This condition can cause women to bleed for days or several weeks.

The causes of abnormal bleeding

There are a number of causes for abnormal uterine bleeding. Some causes are due to medical conditions. This condition can also be caused by certain medications. Overall causes may include:

  • Polyps or fibroids
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
  • Menopausal hormone changes
  • Blood disorders
  • Cervical cancer

However, abnormal uterine bleeding can also be caused by certain medications. Here is a rundown on the most common ones.

Anticoagulants and antiplatelet medications

Anticoagulants are used to thin the blood. These medications are commonly prescribed for blood clots such as pulmonary embolism. Antiplatelet medications are also prescribed for blood clots.

Hormonal agents

Oral contraceptives are the most common cause of abnormal uterine bleeding between menstrual cycles. But other hormone agents can be responsible for this condition. These include estrogen replacement therapy, IUD placements, and corticosteroids.

Herbal supplements

Many people think that because herbal supplements are natural that these medications are free from side effects. This is not always the case. Ginseng, soy protein, and gingko biloba can all cause irregular bleeding in some women.

Neuropsychiatric agents

The class of neuropsychiatric agents involves drugs that are prescribed for mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. Some of these medications can cause abnormal uterine bleeding. These include serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), tricyclic antidepressants, and antipsychotic medications.

A surprising fact about menstruation

Sleeping with a nightlight on can help regulate the menstrual cycle. This is due to the fact that exposure to light has an effect on the sleep hormone melatonin. As well as controlling sleep, melatonin also controls the release of a woman’s reproductive hormones. A study showed that women with irregular periods who sleep next to illuminated 100-watt light bulbs for one or two days during the last week of the menstrual cycle had the menstrual cycle shortened by up to 12 days.

Treatment options

When abnormal uterine bleeding is caused by medications, the doctor will, if possible, stop the patient from taking the drug and prescribe a different one. All cases of irregular bleeding should be evaluated by a healthcare provider on an individual basis.