Postmenopausal Bleeding? Is It Normal?
Posted byChristine Yu
The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the interview participant in this blog do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of Hologic, Inc.
Note: This blog post is written based on an interview with Dr. Jonathan Zaidan, MD, a board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist practicing at Women’s Excellence in Lake Orion, Michigan.
You’ve endured your fair share of night sweats and sleepless nights. You’ve ditched the pads and tampons. It’s official — You’re menopausal.
But what if you experience unexpected bleeding after your uterus and ovaries have closed shop? Is it a fluke or should you be worried? Here’s what you need to know about postmenopausal bleeding.
What is Menopause?
While you may associate hot flashes, mood swings, headaches and a low sex drive with menopause, it is generally understood to be the absence of menstrual periods for one year and not attributed to any other disease or condition (like pregnancy).
Your doctor will then confirm the diagnosis by analyzing your hormone levels and blood work. “We check FSH [follicle-stimulating hormone] and LH [luteinizing hormone] and look for menopause from that perspective,” says Dr. Jonathan Zaidan, MD, a board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist.
Flowing after Menopause?
Because you may take a few months to get the official menopause diagnosis, it can be confusing if you start bleeding again after you thought you were nearing the end of your cycle.
“On a daily basis I see women who say that they feel good but they’re getting more hot flashes at night, their sex drive is down, the last time they bled was super heavy, but then they haven’t bled in three months,” says Dr. Zaidan. “Those people may be either perimenopausal or early menopause.”
But, if you’ve received a menopausal diagnosis from your doctor and you experience any bleeding — heavy or light, it’s considered abnormal bleeding and you should consult your doctor promptly.
“[The bleeding] might not be coming from your uterus. It might be coming from the cervix or endocervix. It might be coming from the fallopian tubes.” says Dr. Zaidan. “Whenever someone has abnormal uterine bleeding or postmenopausal bleeding, they should have a full evaluation,” which includes a doctor’s exam and lab work.
According to Dr. Zaidan, there are a number of factors that may lead to postmenopausal bleeding such as hormonal imbalances, metabolic deficiency or polycyclic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Or it may be due to a disruption in your tissue like a fibroid or polyp. In other cases, it could be due to cancer. “An ovarian tumor can secrete estrogen and increase your endometrial lining so much that you’re bleeding heavy from that,” says Dr. Zaidan.
Even if you’re not technically postmenopausal and you experience heavy or irregular bleeding, it’s a good idea to get checked out by your physician.
“Interview with Dr. Zaidan.” Telephone interview by author. December 5, 2016.
- Posted by Christine Yu
- On March 8, 2017