Dysfunctional uterine bleeding (DUB) occurs when there is abnormal vaginal bleeding due to fluctuating hormones. However, to get this diagnosis a woman must rule out all other causes. For instance, DUB is not caused by pregnancy or a miscarriage. It is also not caused by uterine fibroids, invasive cervical cancer, vaginal infections, and other medical conditions.
Since DUB is caused by fluctuating hormones, it is often seen in teens whose bodies are still developing and in older women who are about to go through menopause.
Since every woman’s cycle is different, the symptoms of DUB can be slightly different.
The main symptom is unpredictable vaginal bleeding or spotting between periods. The bleeding can be either heavy or light. A woman may have DUB if her periods start occurring more often instead of the typical twenty-eight days apart. If periods take longer to appear (more than thirty-five days apart) that is also a sign of this condition. The heaviness of bleeding can also be a sign of DUB, such as soaking through sanitary pads after only a few hours or seeing large blood clots. Bleeding that lasts more than a week is also a sign of this problem.
Besides vaginal bleeding, women can experience other symptoms related to fluctuating hormones, such as hot flashes, anemia, hirsutism, mood swings, and tenderness or dryness in the vagina.
Some women may want to consider an oral contraceptive, an intrauterine device (IUD) that releases progestin, or another contraceptive method. However, contraceptives should only be taken once all other causes of vaginal bleeding have been ruled out by a doctor. If the DUB isn’t too serious, a woman can take over-the-counter pain medication and iron supplements for anemia.
For more serious cases, hormone therapy or endometrial ablation—or the removal of lining in the uterus—can help. If DUB cannot be helped by the previously mentioned options and the prognosis doesn’t look good otherwise, a woman may want to consider a hysterectomy.