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Any bleeding that is not typical of a woman's normal pattern of menstrual bleeding is considered abnormal uterine bleeding. This includes bleeding after menopause, unusually long or heavy periods or periods that arrive more often than every three weeks.
Many things can cause abnormal uterine bleeding, including:
- Disorders that affect ovulation
- Endometrial cancer
- Polyps in the lining of the uterus (the endometrium)
When tests such as Pap smears, X-rays or a physical examination fail to detect a cause for the bleeding, minimally invasive techniques such as a hysteroscopy or laparoscopy may be needed to check the uterus from inside.
Depending on the cause of the bleeding, a variety of medical therapies or minimally invasive surgery may be available to a woman. These options include hysteroscopy with additional instruments to remove polyps or fibroids. Sometimes other procedures such as dilatation and curettage are done along with the hysteroscopy.