What causes vaginal bleeding after menopause?

Vaginal bleeding after menopause refers to any vaginal or uterine bleeding that occurs after a woman has gone through menopause.

The menstrual period is controlled by two hormones: estrogen and progesterone. After menopause, the levels of these hormones decline significantly. Women who are on hormone replacement therapy may sometimes experience vaginal bleeding after menopause. Women with thyroid disorders or other conditions may have hormonal imbalances that can result in vaginal bleeding after menopause.

Gynecologic causes of vaginal bleeding after menopause

Vaginal bleeding after menopause may be caused by gynecologic disorders including:

  • Cyst (benign sac that contains fluid, air, or other materials)
  • Endometrial hyperplasia
  • Uterine fibroids or noncancerous tumors of the uterus
  • Uterine polyps or masses in the endometrium

Hormonal causes of vaginal bleeding after menopause

Vaginal bleeding after menopause can also be caused by hormonal imbalances including:

  • Changes in levels of estrogen or progesterone
  • Complications from hormone therapy
  • Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid)
  • Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid)

Serious or life-threatening causes of vaginal bleeding after menopause

  • In some cases, vaginal bleeding after menopause can be a sign of a serious or potentially life-threatening condition. Examples include:
  • Cancers of the cervix, ovary, uterus or vagina
  • Trauma to the pelvis or abdomen

Questions for diagnosing the cause of vaginal bleeding after menopause

To diagnose your condition, your doctor or licensed health care provider will ask you several questions related to your vaginal bleeding after menopause including:

  • Have you gone through menopause?
  • When did you first notice the abnormal vaginal bleeding?
  • Do you have any other symptoms, such as fatigue or rapid heart rate?
  • What medications are you taking?

What are the potential complications of vaginal bleeding after menopause?

Because vaginal bleeding after menopause can be due to serious diseases, failure to seek treatment can result in serious complications and permanent damage. Once the underlying cause is diagnosed, it is important for you to follow the treatment plan that you and your health care provider design specifically for you to reduce the risk of potential complications including:

  • Anemia (low red blood cell count)
  • Cancer of the uterus
  • Inability to participate normally in activities
  • Spread of cancer

References:

Abnormal uterine bleeding. ACOG American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. http://www.acog.org/publications/patient_education/bp095.cfm. Accessed May 17, 2011.

Dysfunctional uterine bleeding (DUB). MedlinePlus, a service of the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000903.htm. Accessed May 17, 2011.

INTRODUCTION

What is vaginal bleeding after menopause?

Vaginal bleeding after menopause refers to any vaginal or uterine bleeding that occurs after a woman has gone through menopause. Menopause is defined as having experienced a period of 12 consecutive months without a menstrual period.... Read more about vaginal bleeding after menopauseintroduction

SYMPTOMS

What other symptoms might occur with vaginal bleeding after menopause?

Vaginal bleeding after menopause may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition.... Read more about vaginal bleeding after menopausesymptoms

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.