I thought I was in menopause because I haven't had a period in three years. But then last month, I suddenly got my period again. What's up? I'm 50 years old.
Answers from Shannon K. Laughlin-Tommaso, M.D.
Menopause is the end of menstruation. In clinical terms, you reach menopause when you haven't had a period for 12 months.
Vaginal bleeding after menopause isn't normal and should be evaluated by your doctor.
For instance, postmenopausal vaginal bleeding can be caused by:
- Cancer of the uterus, including endometrial cancer and uterine sarcoma
- Cancer of the cervix or vagina
- Thinning of the tissues lining the uterus (endometrial atrophy) or vagina (vaginal atrophy)
- Uterine fibroids
- Uterine polyps
- Infection of the uterine lining (endometritis)
- Medications such as hormone therapy and tamoxifen
- Pelvic trauma
- Bleeding from the urinary tract or rectum
- Excessive overgrowth of the cells that make up the lining of the uterus (endometrial hyperplasia)
The cause of your bleeding may be entirely harmless. However, postmenopausal bleeding could result from something serious, so it's important to see your doctor promptly.
Shannon K. Laughlin-Tommaso, M.D.
Aug. 11, 2015
- Frequently asked questions. Gynecologic problems FAQ162. Perimenopausal bleeding and bleeding after menopause. http://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Perimenopausal-Bleeding-and-Bleeding-After-Menopause. Accessed June 25, 2015.
- AskMayoExpert. Abnormal uterine bleeding: Postmenopausal women. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2014.
- Stiles M, et al. Gynecologic issues in geriatric women. Journal of Women's Health. 2012;21:4.
- Goodman A. Postmenopausal uterine bleeding. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed June 29, 2015.