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Home > Health Library > Abnormal Vaginal Bleeding
Abnormal vaginal bleeding is unexpected bleeding from the vagina. The source of the bleeding may be from the vagina or uterus. If it comes from the uterus, it's called abnormal uterine bleeding. Abnormal bleeding from the vagina can be caused by things like a disease, an injury to the vagina, or a problem with the cervix. These may be from sex, an object in the vagina, an infection, or polyps on the cervix.
When you have unexpected bleeding, it's important to let your doctor know. Your doctor can do an exam and tests to see if the bleeding is coming from your vagina or uterus. They can also check for problems. Treatment depends on the cause of the bleeding.
Bleeding during pregnancy is a different problem. If you are pregnant and have any amount of bleeding from the vagina, be sure to tell your doctor.
Many things can affect how your body responds to a symptom and what kind of care you may need. These include:
You have answered all the questions. Based on your answers, you may be able to take care of this problem at home.
Severe vaginal bleeding means that you are soaking 1 or 2 pads or tampons in 1 or 2 hours, unless that is normal for you. For most women, passing clots of blood from the vagina and soaking through their usual pads or tampons every hour for 2 or more hours is not normal and is considered severe. If you are pregnant: You may have a gush of blood or pass a clot, but if the bleeding stops, it is not considered severe.
Moderate bleeding means that you are soaking more than 1 pad or tampon in 3 hours.
Mild bleeding means that you are soaking less than 1 pad or tampon in more than 3 hours.
Minimal vaginal bleeding means "spotting" or a few drops of blood.
Many prescription and nonprescription medicines can cause changes in vaginal bleeding. A few examples are:
Pain in adults and older children
Shock is a life-threatening condition that may quickly occur after a sudden illness or injury.
Adults and older children often have several symptoms of shock. These include:
Based on your answers, you may need care right away. The problem is likely to get worse without medical care.
Based on your answers, you may need care soon. The problem probably will not get better without medical care.
Based on your answers, the problem may not improve without medical care.
Based on your answers, you need emergency care.
Call 911 or other emergency services now.
Sometimes people don't want to call 911. They may think that their symptoms aren't serious or that they can just get someone else to drive them. Or they might be concerned about the cost. But based on your answers, the safest and quickest way for you to get the care you need is to call 911 for medical transport to the hospital.
With some types of vaginal bleeding, it may be okay to wait to see if the bleeding stops on its own. If the bleeding continues or gets worse, see your doctor to find out the reason for the bleeding.
If you use tampons for abnormal vaginal bleeding, be sure to change them often. And don't leave one in place when the bleeding has stopped. A tampon left in the vagina may put you at risk for toxic shock syndrome (TSS). TSS is a rare but deadly illness. It develops suddenly after a bacterial infection rapidly affects several organ systems.
If you are age 40 or older, you may be experiencing perimenopause.
Call a doctor if any of the following occur during self-care at home:
You can help your doctor diagnose and treat your condition by being prepared for your appointment.
Current as of:
November 22, 2021
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family MedicineKathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Current as of: November 22, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
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