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Understanding Uterine Bleeding

Your uterine bleeding may be heavy. Or you may have bleeding between periods. These problems may be caused by hormonal imbalance. Or they can be caused by uterine growths, an intrauterine device (IUD), bleeding disorder, or pregnancy.

Cutaway view of uterus

Cutaway view of uterus

Hormonal imbalance

Your menstrual cycle is controlled by hormones. The hormones include estrogen and progesterone. Sometimes there is too much or too little of 1 or both of these hormones. This can cause heavy periods. Or it can cause bleeding between periods. Causes of hormonal imbalance can include:

  • Hormonal changes in teens and in women nearing menopause

  • Diabetes, thyroid disease, or other medical problems

  • Obesity

  • Stress

  • Strenuous exercise

  • Anorexia (an eating disorder)

  • Pregnancy

Uterine growths

There are different kinds of uterine growths. These include:

  • Fibroids. These are round “knots” of muscle tissue in the uterus.

  • Polyps. These are soft tissue growths in the uterine lining. They often hang into the uterus.

  • Adenomyosis. This is when the uterine lining grows into the muscle wall.

  • Hyperplasia. This is when the uterine lining gets too thick or grows too much.

  • Endometrial cancer. This is uncontrolled growth of part of the uterine lining.

Other causes of uterine bleeding

There are other causes of uterine bleeding. These include:

  • IUD (intrauterine device). This is a method of birth control. Some IUDs contain hormones.

  • Bleeding disorders. This is when the blood can't clot properly.


Your health care provider can help diagnose the cause of your bleeding problem. He or she will work then work with you to plan treatment as needed.

Online Medical Reviewer: Bowers, Nancy, RN, BSN, MPH
Online Medical Reviewer: Sacks, Daniel, MD, FACOG
Last Review Date: 7/6/2015
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