Dysfunctional Uterine Bleeding (DUB)
As tough and hardcore as many women are, there is a part of us that is delicate and can be upset easily - our reproductive systems. Just a few glitches in the hormones and the deed is done, you're having a problem. One such hormonal situation that can occur is called Dysfunctional Uterine Bleeding, or DUB. Changes in hormone levels cause confusion in the reproductive organs and irregular uterine bleeding occurs.
What Dysfunctional Uterine Bleeding Is Not
We all have different menstrual cycles. Theoretically, a woman's period occurs every 28 days. However, most women have cycles that run from 24 to 34 days and teenage girls have periods that can run from 21 to 45 days or more. While this isn't a serious thing in terms of health - it can be quite annoying. Most often, this variance in days of menstruation is caused by changes in hormonal levels. This irregular bleeding is NOT caused by conditions like:
· blood clotting problems
· uterine polyps
· cervical cysts
Any of these and other causes must be ruled out by your physician before you receive a diagnosis of DUB.
Hormonal Changes and DUB
The cause of DUB is usually attributed to hormonal changes. However, in some cases, the cause is not known. In a normal menstrual cycle, one of the ovaries releases an egg. This process is called ovulation. In more than 95% of cases, DUB is triggered when women do not ovulate. This act alone causes fluctuations in hormone levels that can lead to uterine bleeding. This condition is uncommon in women who do ovulate, although it does happen on occasion and experts still don't fully understand the causes.
The Characteristics of DUB
Dysfunctional uterine bleeding is characterized by the following symptoms:
· Your period comes more frequently than every 21 days or farther apart than 45 days. Remember, a "normal" cycle is 24 to 34 days for female adults and 21 to 45 days for teenage girls.
· Your period exceeds seven days. The norm is between 4 to 6 days.
· Your bleeding is heavier than usual. Often it seems like you're flowing like a river but total menstrual flow per month seldom exceeds two or three tablespoons. However, if you are passing clots and soaking through your usual pads or tampons every hour for a couple of hours, you are bleeding severely and need to call a doctor.
· There is bleeding or spotting between periods.
· The time between periods changes.
Oh, Joy! Hair Growth with DUB
Changing hormones can cause other physiological changes as well. You may experience mood swings, hot flashes, vaginal dryness or tenderness and a condition called hirsutism. Hirsutism is the excessive growth of body hair in male growth patterns. This is caused by an excess of male sex hormones (androgens). The loss of too much blood can cause fainting, weakness, and anemia. If there has been dysfunctional or abnormal vaginal bleeding for more than three months, the doctor should be advised.
How DUB is Diagnosed
In order to diagnose dysfunctional uterine bleeding, all other possible causes must be ruled out. The doctor will ask questions and order tests in order to properly diagnose the condition. S/he will ask how long, how much and how often have you been bleeding. You may also be subjected to testing that includes:
· pelvic exam
· urine test
· blood tests
· possibly a biopsy of uterine tissue
If, after testing, there are no diseases or illnesses that could contribute to the condition causing the symptoms; you will probably receive a diagnosis of dysfunctional uterine bleeding.
Treating Dysfunctional Uterine Bleeding
There are a variety of treatments for this particular situation. Some of the treatments are designed to restore normal menstruation and will protect against pregnancy at the same time. Others will reduce monthly bleeding or stop it all together. If you want to conceive a pregnancy but you're not ovulating with DUB, you may be sent to a reproductive specialist who will assess your condition. The following treatments are used for DUB:
· An oral birth control pill or progestin pill
· Use of a levonorestrel IUD to control hormone levels and reduce bleeding
· Endometrial ablation which removes some of the uterine lining
· A short course of high-dose estrogen
· Gonadotropin-releasing hormones to stop estrogen production and menstruation
· Daily supplement for those suffering with anemia as a result of lost blood
· Hysterectomy if all else fails
· NSAIDs to deal with menstrual pain
The important thing is to get an accurate diagnosis in order to know for sure what you are dealing with and how to treat it. A detailed calendar of when and how much you're bleeding and any symptoms experienced will help the doctor with the diagnosis.
DUB is not only inconvenient - it can interfere with conception. Seek medical help for proper treatment.
Uterine polyps and cervical cysts can also cause irregular bleeding. Read more about these conditions in our article on this site.