Dysfunctional uterine bleeding (DUB) is abnormal bleeding from the vagina that is due to changes in hormone levels.
The menstrual cycle, or period, is not the same for every woman. On average, menstrual flow occurs every 28 days (most women have cycles between 24 and 34 days apart), and lasts 4 - 7 days.
The menstrual cycle of young girls who are just starting to have their periods can range from 21 to 45 days or more apart. Women in their 40s will often notice their menstrual cycles occurring less often.
During a normal menstrual cycle, levels of different female hormones made by your body go up and down. Estrogen and progesterone are two very important hormones.
Ovulation is the part of the normal menstrual cycle when an egg is released from the ovaries. The most common cause of dysfunctional uterine bleeding is when your ovaries do not release an egg. When this occurs, the hormone levels in your body are not the same, causing your period to be later or earlier and heavier than normal.
Other changes in hormones may also cause changes in your period.
See also: Menstrual periods - heavy, prolonged or irregular for information on other causes of vaginal bleeding.
A woman with dysfunctional uterine bleeding may notice the following changes in her menstrual cycle:
Other symptoms caused by changes in hormone levels are:
A woman may feel tiredness or fatigue if she is losing too much blood over time and becomes anemic.
The health care provider will do a pelvic examination.
Lab tests may include:
The following procedures may be done:
Young women within a few years of their first period are often not treated unless symptoms are very severe, such as heavy blood loss causing anemia.
In other women, the goal of treatment is to control the menstrual cycle.
The health care provider may recommend iron supplements for women with anemia.
If you want to get pregnant, you may be given medication to stimulate ovulation.
Women whose symptoms are severe and do not respond to medical therapy may need surgical treatments including:
Hormone therapy usually relieves symptoms. As long as there is no problem with anemia (low blood count), no treatment is needed.
Call your health care provider if you have unusual vaginal bleeding.
Anovulatory bleeding; Bleeding - dysfunctional uterine; DUB; Abnormal uterine bleeding; Menorrhagia - dysfunctional; Polymenorrhea - dysfunctional; Metrorrhagia - dysfunctional