Q. I am 52 and have not had a period in 15 months. I started bleeding yesterday. What could this be?
A. The onset of menopause usually occurs around age 51. By definition, menopause occurs when a woman does not have a period for one year. If postmenopausal bleeding occurs, then a visit to the gynecologist is recommended. It is important to get this type of issue checked as soon as possible, as spotting is not normal. Upon your visit to the doctor, an exam including an ultrasound will likely be ordered to check for polyps (usually noncancerous growths) or fibroid tumors in the uterus. A common scenario may be that the bleeding is induced by hormone replacement therapy due to the hormone imbalance in a woman’s body. After reviewing these issues, a gynecologist may run laboratory tests and an ultrasound to assess the thickness of the uterus lining. After menopause, the lining can become thin due to low estrogen levels or thick as a result of too much estrogen. Abnormal findings would result in a biopsy to identify whether cancerous cells are present. Treatment would depend on the cause of the bleeding. With polyps, surgery may be necessary for removal while issues with uterine lining thickness can be treated with medication.
Elizabeth Maria Bowers, D.O., OB-GYN
Erlanger at Hutcheson Chief of Staff
Chattanooga Women’s Specialists
929 Spring Creek Road
Chattanooga, TN 37412