vaginal bleeding

Excessive vaginal bleeding

Fact Checked

Excessive vaginal bleeding is also called heavy menstrual periods which refer to menstrual bleeding being heavier or more prolonged than usual. Excessive menstrual bleeding occurs towards the cessation of the menstrual period, called menopause.

A heavy menstrual period may last for more than 7 days with a total amount of vaginal bleeding that is more than one third of a cup of 80 ml. Heavy menstrual periods occur in 10-20% of the women under the mentioned criteria.

Women having excessive vaginal bleeding may experience vaginal discharge and pelvic pain. Bleeding that lasts longer than 7 days may result in symptoms of anemia such as dizziness, fainting, faintness, heart palpitations, rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath and pale skin.

If you report your condition to your health care provider, your doctor may treat excessive menstrual bleeding with birth control pills, hormone therapy, endometrial ablation procedures, dilation and curettage and hysterectomy.

Disclaimer: this post on excessive vaginal bleeding is for learning purposes only. To learn to recognize and manage serious medical emergencies, including sever bleeding, register for a first aid and CPR coursevaginal bleeding

Causes of excessive vaginal bleeding

Common causes of excessive vaginal bleeding include:

  • Bleeding from anticoagulant
  • Birth control pills
  • Side effects of certain medications
  • Infections such as  endometritis or pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Intrauterine device
  • Miscarriage
  • Uterine fibroids

Signs and symptoms of excessive vaginal bleeding

Signs and symptoms of heavy menstrual periods include:

  • Pelvic pain
  • Vaginal discharge

Extended or heavy bleeding from heavy menstrual periods may result in:

  • Symptoms of anemia
  • Faintness
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Heart palpitations
  • Rapid pulse
  • Shortness of breath – worsens during physical exertion
  • Pale skin
  • Weakness or fatigue


Diagnosis and evaluation commences with physical examination and personal and family history.

Women with heavy menstrual periods may have:

  • An enlarged ovary
  • An enlarged uterus
  • Cervical tenderness
  • Signs and symptoms of anemia such as rapid heart rate, pallor, rapid breathing and low blood pressure

The doctor may perform several tests to diagnose excessive vaginal bleeding. Tests may include:

  • Serum pregnancy test
  • Pelvic ultrasound
  • Complete blood count
  • Serum folate levels
  • Serum iron level
  • Serum vitamin B12
  • Serum progesterone level
  • Serum estrogen level
  • Total iron binding capacity (TBC)
  • Thyroid profile
  • PAP smear
  • Coagulation profile
  • Urinalysis
  • Uterine biopsy

The following are less common tests used to diagnose excessive vaginal bleeding:

  • Laparoscopy
  • Hysteroscopy – an endoscope is used to examine the inside of the uterus
  • CT scanning f the pelvis
  • Dilation and curettage

Home care treatment for excessive vaginal bleeding

For heavy menstrual periods, follow these home care steps to resolve symptoms:

  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or naproxen for pain
  • Take multi-vitamins and iron every day
  • See your doctor and take prescribed medication as directed by your health care provider. Avoid skipping doses as it may make the medication less effective and familiarize yourself with the common side effects of the medication used

Learn More

To learn more about excessive bleeding and other serious medical emergencies sign up for first aid and CPR classes with a St Mark James training provider.

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2 thoughts on “Excessive vaginal bleeding”

  1. Medicines, such as birth control pills, sometimes cause abnormal vaginal bleeding. You may have minor bleeding between periods during the first few months if you have recently started using birth control pills. You also may have bleeding if you do not take your pills at a regular time each day. For more information, see the topic Birth Control.-,;:

  2. Most of the time, vaginal discharge is perfectly normal. The amount can vary, as can odor and hue (its color can range from clear to a milky white-ish), depending on the time in your menstrual cycle. For example, there will be more discharge if you are ovulating, breastfeeding, or are sexually aroused. The smell may be different if you are pregnant or you haven’t been diligent about your personal hygiene.,*’:

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