Vaginal Bleeding

Women experience normal bleeding in the form of their menstrual period. Bleeding usually occurs every 22 to 35 days. Bleeding usually lasts for one to seven days. Periods vary a lot from woman to woman. Some women have light bleeding, some women have heavy bleeding for a day or two which then becomes lighter.

During adolescence, the interval between periods can be quite irregular. Women grow older, each woman tends to develop her own pattern.If a girl has not started having periods by the age of 16 years, she should see her doctor or visit the local health clinic.

However, there are times when bleeding is abnormal and requires medical attention.

If you are concerned about any abnormal bleeding or have some other concern about your health, you should see your local doctor, family planning clinic or sexual health clinic. Unusual vaginal bleeding may be a sign of an infection or other problem. Some of these can be serious. Some may cause problems later in life if they are not treated.

Practical Advice

The following is abnormal bleeding:

  • periods excessively heavy
    • needing double pads or a pad and a tampon
    • losing clots
  • irregular and unpredictable bleeding
  • bleeding between periods (this includes "spotting" of small amounts of blood)
  • bleeding after sex.
Common causes of abnormal bleeding include:
  • infection:
    • chlamydia
    • gonorrhoea
  • uterine fibroid (a muscular growth in the wall of the womb)
  • hormone disturbance
  • bleeding during pregnancy (this is serious and may indicate there is a threat of losing the pregnancy).
Common causes of not having periods include:
  • pregnancy
  • excessive weight loss
  • excessive exercise
  • stress or emotional upset
  • major change in normal routine (eg. going off to boarding school, backpacking around the world, moving out of home, breaking up with a partner)
  • hormone disturbance
  • following depo-provera (an injectable contraceptive).