What causes abnormal uterine bleeding (AUB)?

Part of staying healthy means understanding what’s causing your heavy periods. Pinpointing the cause(s) can help your doctor decide which treatment options may be right for you.

Do you suffer from AUB? Take our Heavy Bleeding Quiz to find out.

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Causes of abnormal uterine bleeding (AUB)

Hormonal imbalances - If your body doesn’t maintain the right balance of estrogen and progesterone, the lining of your uterus (endometrium) can build up excessively. During your period, this excess can cause heavy bleeding. These hormone imbalances are most common among adolescent girls and women approaching menopause.

Benign (non-cancerous) growths like fibroids or polyps - Uterine growths can appear during your childbearing years and cause heavier, longer or irregular periods.

Complication from pregnancy - An ectopic pregnancy (implantation of a fertilized egg in the fallopian tube instead of the uterus) can occasionally cause heavy periods. A single heavy period that’s late may be the result of a miscarriage.

Medications - Some drugs—especially anticoagulants (medications that prevent blood clotting) and anti-inflammatories—can lead to heavier, longer periods.

Bleeding disorders - Certain disorders impair blood clotting, leading to heavy bleeding and longer periods. These disorders are serious and need medical attention.

Use of Intrauterine device (IUD) - AUB is a common side effect of using IUD for birth control. If IUD is the cause of your heavy periods, your doctor may need to remove the device.

Abnormal ovary function - If your ovaries don’t produce, mature or release eggs (anovulation) a hormonal imbalance can occur, leading to AUB.

Adenomyosis - Most common among middle-aged women who have had many children, this condition occurs when glands from the endometrium grow into the uterine muscle. Heavy bleeding and pain can result.

Cancer - Although it’s rare, certain female reproductive cancers like uterine cancer, ovarian cancer and cervical cancer can cause heavy periods.

Other illnesses - Certain medical conditions can cause or increase your risk of AUB. Examples include thyroid problems, endometriosis, lupus, liver or kidney disease and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).

Untreated AUB can also cause various health conditions. For example, untreated AUB can lead to anemia, which in turn can lead to further health problems. AUB can also contribute to feelings of social isolation and depression, compromising your quality of life.