Any bleeding after menopause can be a problem. This article describes the causes of postmenopausal bleeding and what can be done about it.
What is Postmenopausal Bleeding?
After one year without menstruation, a woman is considered to be in menopause. However, sometimes a woman may bleed after menopause. This is called postmenopausal bleeding and can be worrisome.
What Causes Bleeding After Menopause?
There are many reasons that you may have vaginal bleeding after you have stopped menstruating. The cause of your bleeding may be one of the below conditions:
• Uterine polyps that are usually noncancerous. Even so, some polyps may eventually become malignant. Irregular bleeding is often the only symptom you will have if you have polyps.
• Endometrial atrophy is a thinning of the lining of your endometrium. As the lining thins, bleeding can occur.
• Endometrial hyperplasia is a thickening of the lining of the endometrium. It is usually caused when there is too much estrogen and not enough progesterone. This is a very common cause of bleeding in women after menopause.
• Uterine cancer begins in the uterus, in a layer known as the endometrium. It can cause vaginal bleeding as well as pelvic pain. Endometrial cancer is the most common form of uterine cancer, which occurs particularly between the 50th and 75th year of life.
Why is Bleeding After Menopause a Cause for Concern?
Vaginal bleeding after menopause can be a serious concern because it is a sign of uterine dysfunction. Such dysfunction may be cancer or a hormone imbalance that causes the endometrial lining to thin out or thicken. You may also bleed out if it is very heavy, so make sure that you go to your doctor as quickly as possible if you have serious bleeding. If your doctor is not available, go to the nearest emergency room to be treated.
Diagnosis for Bleeding after Menstruation Has Stopped
If you have vaginal bleeding after menopause, you should visit your doctor. To find the reason for your bleeding, your doctor will do a physical exam and may do one or both of these tests:
• Transvaginal ultrasound: Your doctor will insert a small probe into your vagina, which sends ultra waves and creates an image of your reproductive system. This is to check for growths and the thickness of your endometrium.
• Hysteroscopy: A fiber-optic scope is inserted into your vagina and causes the uterus to expand. The fiber optic, as well as the stretching of the uterus, will make it easier for your doctor to view your uterus.
How is it Treated?
The treatment for your vaginal bleeding after menopause depends on the cause of the bleeding, how heavy the bleeding is and whether there are additional symptoms. There may be no treatment for light bleeding without additional symptoms, but other times, once cancer is ruled out, treatment may include one or all of the following:
• Estrogen cream may be prescribed for endometrial atrophy.
• Polyp removal is a surgical procedure for removal of concerning polyps.
• Progestin, a hormone replacement therapy, is usually prescribed for endometrial hyperplasia.
• A hysterectomy may be required if bleeding cannot be treated in another way. In a hysterectomy, your doctor will remove your uterus.
• Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are common treatments for cancer.
What Can You Do?
Bleeding after you have stopped menstruating may be benign or cause for major concern because it may turn out to be caused by polyps, endometrial atrophy, hyperplasia or even uterine cancer. All of these conditions can cause serious health risks or even death. Your best bet is to see your doctor as soon as you can. Though women cannot usually prevent this kind of bleeding, you can get a diagnosis quickly to start a therapy plan that fits your condition. If uterine cancer is detected early, there are good chanced of healing and a higher survival rate. Regardless of whether the causes are harmless or not, vaginal bleeding after menopause is always a warning sign that should never be ignored.