Many women experience abnormal bleeding and pelvic pain. Uterine fibroids, for example, are noncancerous tumors that grow within the walls of the uterus and are especially common in women of childbearing age. Fibroids can cause heavy periods, bleeding between periods and pain during intercourse.
Another cause of abnormal bleeding and pelvic pain could be endometriosis, which affects about 10 percent of women. With this condition, tissue that normally grows inside the uterus grows elsewhere. It may grow on the outside of the uterus or on other organs in the pelvis or abdomen.
Endometriosis can cause very painful menstrual cramps and chronic pain in the pelvis and lower back, which can be severe. Other symptoms include spotting between periods and painful urination during your period.
Abnormal hormone levels or thyroid problems can also result in irregular bleeding.
Many Treatments Available
There are many therapies available to treat these conditions, including medicines that can help reduce bleeding and ease pain. In addition, some procedures can help control symptoms, such as ablation for heavy bleeding — which involves removing the lining of the uterus — and embolization for fibroids — which cuts off the blood supply to tumors and helps to shrink them.
When pelvic pain or abnormal bleeding are severe, or when other treatments fail, a woman may choose to have a hysterectomy (surgery to remove the uterus). Hysterectomies are quite common; one in three American women has had this operation by age 60.
There are different types of hysterectomies. Some involve an incision through the abdomen, while others are performed through an incision in the vagina. The operation also may be done with smaller incisions and less-invasive techniques.
After any type of hysterectomy, a woman stops having her period and cannot become pregnant. She also may have menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes.
If you have pelvic pain or heavy or abnormal bleeding, be sure to see your doctor. Your doctor can help you find the cause, and can work out the best course of treatment for you.
If you are a candidate for surgery, Sharp HealthCare offers procedures using traditional surgery as well as minimally invasive approaches, including robotic-assisted laparoscopic surgery using the da Vinci® surgical system. This breakthrough technology enhances the surgeon’s ability to perform minimally invasive hysterectomies, and allows our patients to recover more quickly and with fewer side effects.
For More Information
To learn more about Sharp's women's health services or to find a Sharp-affiliated doctor, search for a San Diego OBGYN or call 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277), Monday through Friday, 8 am to 6 pm. To find general information about women's health, visit Women's Health in Adult Health or read the Women's Health News archive.