It’s always alarming to have unanticipated vaginal bleeding, but it’s particularly worrying when it occurs years after your Menopause. It’s not just about making the midnight run for sanitary products, it’s that stomach-dropping fear that “blood equals cancer” that causes women to spend hours searching the Internet for reassurance. In the majority of cases, postmenopausal bleeding is not an indication of anything serious.
Is it really the vaginal Bleeding?
The first step is to determine where the blood is coming from. Blood on the toilet paper can be coming from the vagina, rectum or bladder, and while it seems as if the source should be obvious, it’s not always easy to know. When in doubt, put a tampon in, if the tampon stays white but there is blood in the toilet bowl, it’s most likely coming from the rectum or bladder and a visit to your primary care doctor is in order.
What If it’s a vaginal bleeding?
The best time to see your gynecologist about abnormal vaginal bleeding is while you are bleeding so that, the doctor can determine not only where it’s coming from, but also how heavy it is.
A bloody vaginal discharge is commonly due to dryness and thinning of vaginal tissue from lack of estrogen. Vaginal infections such as yeast or bacterial vaginosis are another culprit.
Bleeding originating from the cervix can occur if there is a benign cervical polyp or cervical inflammation.
Many sexually transmitted infections can cause cervical bleeding; if there is a new partner in your life, it is a good idea to be screened for chlamydia, gonorrhea and trichomonas.
Bleeding due to Cancer?
Cervical and vaginal cancers can also cause bleeding, but are less common. Abnormal bleeding from the cavity of the uterus is caused by hormonal imbalances, benign growths such as polyps or fibroids, pre-cancer or cancer. An ultrasound combined with a sample of tissue from the inside of the uterus will generally identify the problem.
Since uterine cancer is usually diagnosed in its early stages, there is a high cure rate. In fact, the five-year survival for women diagnosed with a Stage I cancer is 96%. While the overwhelming majority of abnormal bleeding is not an indication of uterine cancer, DON’T put off that trip to your gynecologist … and DON’T wait for the bleeding to stop!