Menopause is diagnosed if a woman has not had a period in at least one year. Postmenopausal bleeding is not usually serious, but can be a sign of cancer. Cancer is easier to treat if it’s found early.
Any bleeding from the vagina after menopause should be checked by a Gynaecologist. One should seek urgent advice even if
- it has happened only once
- there is only a small amount of blood, spotting, or pink or brown discharge
- she does not have any other symptoms or
- she is not sure if it’s blood
The tests which a woman may need to undergo to find out the cause of abnormal vaginal bleeding are: General and local examination, Pap smear of cervix, Colposcopy, Hysteroscopy, D&C (dilation and curettage) and Ultrasound scan
The most common causes of postmenopausal bleeding are:
- Atrophic vaginitis or endometrial atrophy
- Cervical or uterine fibroids or polyps
- Endometrial hyperplasia
- Women on hormone replacement therapy
Treatment depends on what is causing the bleeding.
- Cervical polyps need to be removed.
- Endometrial atrophy case may be offered oestrogen cream or tablets.
- In cases of endometrial hyperplasia, depending on the type of hyperplasia, one may need hormone medicine (tablets or an intrauterine system) or a total hysterectomy(surgery to remove uterus, cervix and ovaries.
- Bleeding that cannot be treated in less invasive ways may require a hysterectomy. The procedure may be done laparoscopically or through conventional abdominal surgery.
- In cases of cancer the treatment depends upon the site and stage of cancer and may be surgery or radiotherapy or chemotherapy or a combination of any of these.
Most important is that every women should visit a gynecologist for regular screenings. Although it may not be possible to prevent abnormal vaginal bleeding, regular check up by a gynaecologist can help detect any conditions early including cancer which may decrease a woman’s morbidity and mortality to a large extent. To prevent abnormal postmenopausal bleeding, the best strategy is to reduce the risk factors that could cause it. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, a healthy weight, following a healthy diet and exercising regularly can prevent a variety of complications and conditions throughout the entire body.