Menopause marks the end of the reproductive phase of a woman’s life and consequently the end of her menstrual periods – so there is usually supposed to be no vaginal bleeding after menopause. A woman is said to be fully menopausal if she has gone a full year without having a period.
Bleeding after menopause is never something that a woman should take lightly – and all post menopausal bleeding should be reported to the doctor for advice and evaluation or investigation.
It is important to differentiate between bleeding after menopause and spotting.
Hormonal changes and imbalances can persist even after menopause as well, so if a woman does experience some light spotting occasionally after this, it may not necessarily be a cause for concern.
In particulate if a woman is undergoing any hormone therapy then the spotting is quite likely and in this case is usually not a cause for concern.
When bleeding after menopause may be a cause for concern
If there is any abnormal or heavy bleeding post menopause, this is a cause for concern. If the bleeding lasts longer than normal, or it if occurs more frequently than three weeks, or it if occurs between periods, or if the bleeding is related to sexual intercourse, then it is not normal, and should be reported, whether a woman is menopausal or is still in the stage of Perimenopause.
Underlying reasons could cause bleeding after menopause
- Declining levels of estrogen causes the lining of the vagina to become drier, thinner and less flexible and resilient. This can cause inflammation or the breaking of tissue there, leading to bleeding.
- Similarly the thinning of the endometrium (lining of the uterus) also occurs due to lower estrogen levels. This thinning of the lining can also cause abnormal bleeding.
- Sometimes a pelvic exam or sex can also cause slight bleeding.
- Polyps or fibroids are some of the reasons why some women experience bleeding after menopause. They are non cancerous growths that occur in the uterus as well as at sites outside the uterus such as the cervix. These can cause bleeding as well. If the polyps are located on the cervix or cervical canal, they can cause bleeding after sexual intercourse.
- Certain infections could also cause abnormal bleeding in post menopausal women. It is important to look out for any other symptoms that may indicate the presence of any infection.
- Hormone therapy is known to cause some spotting or vaginal bleeding.
- Endometrial hyperplasia can also cause irregular to heavy bleeding. This is a condition where the endometrial lining of the uterus becomes abnormally thick, causing the bleeding. This condition is potentially dangerous since it significantly increases risk of endometrial cancer.
- The most serious reason for post menopausal bleeding is endometrial cancer. This is the most common type of cancer of the female reproductive system. Bleeding is the most commonly seen symptom of this cancer and if detected early, this cancer shows high rates of successful cure.
- Certain other kind of cancers can also cause bleeding after menopause and so this is something that should never be ignored.