As we all know, women have menstrual cycles which occurs as a result of cyclic hormonal changes are usually 21-40 days long, with bleeding duration of 3-7 days and an average blood loss of 20-80 ml. Many women experience some kind of menstrual cycle disturbance; this could be minor disorders or a sign of malignant diseases. Malignant endometrial and cervical disorders include endometrial carcinoma, endometrial heperplasia, cervical cancer and cervical intra-epithelial neoplasia which could present abnormal uterine bleeding.
If a woman is pregnant, vaginal bleeding is abnormal. This often occurs in early pregnancy and is often associated with miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy. Ectopic pregnancy is one of the most severe pregnancy related conditions in women with abnormal uterine bleeding. Threatened miscarriage and miscarriage also present abnormal uterine bleeding.
Benign endometrial and cervical diseases: Fibroids is benign smooth muscle tumors in uterus which is either asymptomatic or presenting abnormal uterine bleeding. Endometrial polyps are a significant cause.
More frequent vaginal bleeding could be caused by pelvic inflammatory disease which is caused by sexually transmitted diseases such as Chlamydia or gonorrhoea. This causes inflammation in the uterus. Endometriosis can also cause more frequent vaginal bleeding. Polycystic ovary syndrome is also the underline causes of abnormal uterine bleeding. Irregular interval of vaginal bleeding could be caused by oral contraceptive pills and perimenopause.
Abnormality presents as duration, interval and amount of the bleeding, if a woman is not pregnant and ovulates regularly.
Very heavy vaginal bleeding: This could be caused by benign conditions including uterine fibroids, endometrial polyps, adenomyosis, intrauterine devices, hypothyroidism, an autoimmune disorders, blood clotting disorders and medications disturbing blood clotting.
Lighter vaginal bleeding could be caused by hyperthoroidism, oral contraceptive pills.
Bleeding between periods could be caused by contraceptive pills, intrauterine device, psychological stress and anticoagulant medications.
If a woman does not ovulate reduction of periods or period blood flow could be seen in some conditions, such as, some chronic conditions and physical and psychological stress, hypothalamus dysfunction, anorexia nervosa, and polycystic ovarian syndrome.
Majority of women with abnormal uterine bleeding do not have structural and histological abnormalities fortunately. Dysfunctional uterine bleeding is not due to certain pelvic disease, complications of pregnancy or systemic illness but mostly related to hormonal dysfunction. These affect 30% of women in reproductive age. Dysfunctional uterine bleeding is a common condition in women in reproductive age. This could be caused by psychological and/or physical stress, malnutrition, or systematic disorders which affect hypathalumic-pituitary-ovarian axis. They present with heavy abnormal uterine bleeding patterns: longer bleeding days, heavy blood loss, more frequent period cycles. In such cases, it is likely associated with aovulations. Changes of normal menstrual cycles are normally caused by disturbances of the hypothalamus-pituitary-ovarian axis. Most cases of anovulatory bleeding are caused by estrogen withdrawal or estrogen breakthrough bleeding. This could present midcycle spotting or intermittent spotting. This also could present irregular or prolonged heavy bleeding. In the case of no ovulation, the uterine endometrium at the presence of estrogen stimulation reaches abnormal heights and lacks structural support and it becomes fragile. The fragile endometrium breaks down and bleeding occurs. The fundamental issue in anovulatory bleeding is that the ovary does not function well causing hormonal imbalance. If a woman with anovulatory bleeding is trying to conceive, she would have difficulty to get pregnant because of anovulation. Improving ovary function is the key to treat anovulatory bleeding.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) dysfunctional uterine bleeding can be divided into three types
1. Spleen and kidney yang deficiency, the symptoms include prolonged uterine bleeding, heavy periods, light red without clot, excessive vaginal discharge, tireness, lower back pain, feeling cold, cold hands and feet, diarrhoea, swelling tongue with light white coating, and week and sink pulse.
2. liver and kidney yin deficiency, the symptoms include irregular periods, prolonged uterine bleeding, red blood, dizziness tinnitus, lower backpain, dry mouth, red tongue, week and sink pulse.
3. kidney deficiency and liver stagnation, the symptoms include irregular periods, breast pain, lower back pain, lower tummy pain, excessive vaginal discharge, light tongue and week and sink pulse.
Apart from medication and surgery treatments, acupuncture is an effective treatment for dysfunctional uterine bleeding
Acupuncture could stimulate nerve end to improve ovarian blood circulation. This could improve ovarian function, restore hormonal balance and ovulation and stop abnormal vaginal bleeding and improve fertility.
Zeng et al conducted a controlled trial to investigate effectiveness of acupuncture on dysfunctional uterine bleeding. It was involved in 252 patients. These patients were divided into three groups acupuncture group, Chinese medicine group and conventional medicine group with 84 patients in each group. The result showed that acupuncture has the best effect compared with Chinese medicine and conventional medicine groups. Dr Cheng reported 90 cases of dysfunctional uterine bleeding treated with acupuncture or acupuncture and moxbustion. These women were aged between 16-46, most of them were 25-35. Uterine bleeding days were from 9 days to 65 days. They found that acupuncture and moxibustion are effective treatments for women with dysfunctional uterine bleeding.
Hickey M et al. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2007 Oct 17;(4):CD001895.
Welcome to my blog, discover acupuncture with Dr Maggie Ju
Qualified as a medical doctor in Western medicine in China with a Medical degree from Beijing, China and a PhD degree from the UK. Many year research and clinical experiences. This blog is for information only.
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