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Vaginal bleeding between periods
Alternative namesAbnormal uterine bleeding; Bleeding between periods; Intermenstrual bleeding; Spotting; Metrorrhagia
DefinitionIntermenstrual bleeding is uterine bleeding that occurs between menstrual periods.
Normal menstrual flow lasts about 4 days, produces a total blood loss of 30 to 80 ml (about 2 to 8 tablespoons), and occurs normally every 28 days (+/-7 days).
Vaginal bleeding may be something to worry about for women over age 50 (postmenopausal). The risk of malignancy increases with age.
Make sure that bleeding is coming from the vagina and is not from the rectum or in the urine. Inserting a tampon into the vagina will confirm the vagina/cervix/uterus as the source of bleeding.
A careful exam by your health care provider is frequently the best way to sort out the source of the bleeding. This exam can be accomplished even while you are bleeding. Do not delay getting an exam just because you are currently bleeding.
Bed rest is recommended if bleeding is heavy.
The number of pads or tampons used over time should be recorded (so that the amount of bleeding can be determined).
Because aspirin may prolong bleeding, it should be avoided if possible.
Call your health care provider if
The medical history will be obtained and a physical examination performed.
Medical history questions documenting vaginal bleeding between periods detail may include:
A thorough menstrual history will be obtained and a physical examination performed with an emphasis on the pelvic area. Uterine blood loss can be estimated if the patient knows how many sanitary napkins or tampons were used during a period.
Diagnostic tests that may be performed include:
Update Date: 1/14/2002Peter Chen, M.D., Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT