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Continuous Bleeding After a Period: Why It Occurs and What You Can Do About It

written by: R. Elizabeth C. Kitchen • edited by: BStone • updated: 3/17/2011

What causes continuous bleeding after a period? This may be a sign of a number of different health problems. Learn what the possibilities are and when to see your doctor.

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    Continuous bleeding after a period is abnormal. It may involve spotting, a constant flow or any form of bleeding outside of the time frame of the menstrual period. Anytime bleeding occurs that is not part of a menstrual period, it warrants medical attention. This issue can affect women of all ages.

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    Cervical Cancer

    Cervical cancer is common, but also very treatable when caught early. Women over the age of 30 are at the highest risk. Symptoms include bleeding between periods, pelvic pain, abnormal vaginal discharge and pain during intercourse. If the cancer is noninvasive and limited, treatment is focused on removing the abnormal area of cells. This may be done through the use of a cone biopsy, loop electrosurgical excision procedure, hysterectomy, laser surgery and cryosurgery. Invasive cancers often are treated with chemotherapy, radiation and surgery.

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    Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

    This infection affects the organs of the female reproductive system. Pelvic inflammatory disease may cause no symptoms and be detected on an unrelated exam. It is caused by a sexually transmitted bacteria. Symptoms may include pelvic and lower abdominal pain, irregular bleeding, lower back pain, difficult or painful urination, heavy and odorous vaginal discharge, pain during intercourse, fatigue, vomiting, fever and diarrhea. Treatment most often includes antibiotics.

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    Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

    This hormonal disorder is often characterized by several cysts on the ovary's outer edge. The exact cause is unknown. Symptoms may include menstrual and bleeding abnormalities, polycystic ovaries, excess androgen, excess body hair, obesity, diabetes, infertility and acanthosis nigricans. There is no cure, but there are things that can be done to help alleviate the symptoms.

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    Uterine Fibroids

    This is a noncancerous growth that rarely leads to cancer. They are very common and often cause no symptoms. Symptoms include heavy menstrual bleeding, continuous bleeding after a period, frequent urination, constipation, pelvic pressure or pain, trouble emptying bladder and leg pains or backache. Watchful waiting is a common approach because many women do not end up needing treatment. Medications may include a progestin-releasing intrauterine device, gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists, androgens and oral contraceptives. Though not common, a hysterectomy is an option. Other procedures include myomectomy, endometrial ablation, myolysis, uterine artery embolization and focused ultrasound surgery.

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    Gonorrhea

    This sexually transmitted disease is rather common and caused by an infection. Not everyone with this infection will experience symptoms. Women may experience increased vaginal discharge, bleeding between periods, pelvic pain, painful urination and abdominal pain. Antibiotics are used to treat this infection. The woman's partner, or partners, should also be treated. Prompt treatment is important.

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    Resources

    American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2011). Abnormal Uterine Bleeding. Retrieved on March 14, 2011 from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: http://www.acog.org/publications/patient_education/bp095.cfm

    American Family Physician. (1999). Abnormal Uterine Bleeding. Retrieved on March 14, 2011 from American Family Physician: http://www.aafp.org/afp/991001ap/1371.html