The Low-Down on Diagnostic Tests for Abnormal Uterine Bleeding
The Low-down on Diagnostic Tests for Abnormal Uterine Bleeding
You’ve had heavy periods for a while, and now your doctor wants to perform some diagnostic tests to figure out what’s causing your abnormal uterine bleeding (AUB). There are several testing options your doctor might recommend, but you may not be not sure what each involves. Check out this run-down of possible tests and what you can expect from each.
First, the Work-Up
It’s important for your doctor to get a complete picture of your personal history with heavy periods before beginning any testing. Remember, AUB is any bleeding that differs from your normal cycle — whether in amount, how often, timing (such as between your regular periods) or after menopause.
At your work-up appointment, be prepared to have an honest, open discussion with your doctor. He or she might ask you questions about what types of activities or behaviors seem to impact your heavy periods, if any. You should tell your doctor about any symptoms you have that are caused by or related to your AUB, and whether you think you might be pregnant. Your doctor might also request some blood work to check your thyroid hormone levels and to evaluate your blood’s ability to clot.1
Then, the Pelvic Exam
Next, your doctor may perform a pelvic examination. This is something most women are already familiar with, as it’s part of your annual gynecological examination. Your doctor will likely feel your uterus and ovaries, as well as conduct a Pap test as part of your pelvic exam, which offers a simple, fast way to collect cells from your cervix for further examination in a laboratory.2
A Few Other Tests
If your initial examination reveals any cause for concern, your doctor might recommend any of the following diagnostic tests:
- An ultrasound uses sound waves to make a picture of your internal organs. Your doctor might use this test to get a better look at your uterus, ovaries, cervix and fallopian tubes if results from the pelvic examination warrant a more detailed look.3
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). If your doctor finds anything suspicious using ultrasound, he or she might recommend further evaluation using an MRI. This test allows your doctor to better see fibroids or other masses by using powerful magnets to make a picture of your reproductive organs.3
- During this procedure, your doctor will inject a saline solution into your uterus through a thin tube. Then, he or she will use ultrasound to visualize your endometrium, the lining of your uterus, and look for anything that might be causing your AUB, like polyps.3
- In this diagnostic test, your doctor will insert a narrow, lighted tube through your vagina and cervix and into your uterus. The tube also contains a tiny viewing device that allows your doctor to see the inside of your uterus during the examination. He or she can use this method to look for fibroids, polyps or other problems.3
- Endometrial biopsy. If your doctor needs to remove a small sample of tissue from the lining of your uterus, he or she will perform this procedure. Your doctor will use another type of small, narrow tube to take a tissue sample from your endometrium. The sample is then taken to a laboratory, where it’s inspected under a microscope for any signs of disease or abnormality.3
If you’re ready to talk to your doctor about AUB, it’s important to be aware of the possible diagnostic tests that might be ahead of you. Arming yourself with the knowledge about what tests are used to diagnose causes of AUB can be helpful in reducing any fear you might have as you prepare to discuss your concerns with your doctor. Your doctor has your best interests in mind, and the right diagnostic test can kick off the process of treating your heavy periods.
- Abnormal Uterine Bleeding.” Cleveland Clinic. May 12, 2014. http://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/abnormal-uterine-bleeding
- Pelvic exam: What you can expect.” Mayo Clinic. May 19, 2014. http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/pelvic-exam/basics/what-you-can-expect/prc-20013064
- Abnormal Vaginal Bleeding.” Radiological Society of North America. March 17, 2016. http://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=vaginalbleeding
- Posted by Dot.
- On January 11, 2018