Dysfunctional uterine bleeding (DUB) affects at least 1/3 of women at some point in life. Problems can start at any time, such as during the first menstrual cycle all the way up to menopause. This condition affect’s the body’s ovulation cycle. Instead of following a normal 21-35-day menstrual cycle, DUB occurs at random times during the month. To further explain the health issue, researchers have identified two levels: acute and chronic. Acute bleeding is extremely heavy so much so, a blood transfusion may be required. Chronic bleeding occurs for at least six months.
Documenting the menstrual cycle, including the times when bleeding starts and stops will help a healthcare provider to diagnose DUB. Patients that notice any of these symptoms should consult a physician:
Vaginal bleeding that lasts for more than seven days
Frequent periods over a 21-day cycle
Infrequent periods over a 35-day cycle
No bleeding at all for months
Healthcare providers, especially gynecologists, are trained to understand and identify normal to severe cases of DUB. Sometimes the condition is the result of a growth, like a polyp or fibroid, in the uterus. In other cases, DUB is a symptom of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). PCOS affects a women’s hormones causing the body to produce excess androgen and enlarged ovaries.
Whether a woman has PCOS or not, DUB is almost always a hormonal issue. Doctors will conduct some tests before diagnosis. First, a physician will administer a pregnancy test to rule out pregnancy or miscarriage. Once a pregnancy has ruled out, a series of tests including blood tests, urine tests, biopsies, ultrasounds, and a pelvic exam.
The big question remains is DUB curable? DUB can be managed, treated, and controlled. To treat the condition, doctors prescribe progestin or estrogen hormones to balance hormones. Providers also prescribe an intrauterine device called an IUD. An IUD with levonorgestrel reduces bleeding. In extreme cases, surgery may be required. Endometrial ablation and hysterectomies are examples of common surgeries for this condition.
If a woman is experiencing some of the common DUB symptoms a physician should be consulted. A healthcare provider will be able to schedule tests and discuss treatment options with patients struggling with DUB.