Dysfunctional uterine bleeding

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Dysfunctional uterine bleeding
Classification and external resources
Specialty gynaecology
ICD-10 N93.8
ICD-9-CM 626.8
MedlinePlus 000903
eMedicine article/795587
MeSH D008796

Dysfunctional uterine bleeding (DUB) or abnormal uterine bleeding (AUB) is abnormal genital tract bleeding based in the uterus and found in the absence of demonstrable structural[1] or organic disease. It is usually due to hormonal disturbances: reduced levels of progesterone cause low levels of prostaglandin F2alpha and cause menorrhagia (abnormally heavy flow); increased levels of tissue plasminogen activator (TPA) (a fibrinolytic enzyme) lead to more fibrinolysis.

Diagnosis must be made by exclusion, since organic pathology must first be ruled out.

AUB can be classified as ovulatory or anovulatory, depending on whether ovulation is occurring or not. It is usually a menstrual disorder, although abnormal bleeding from the uterus is possible outside of menstruation.

Some sources state that the term "dysfunctional" implies a hormonal mechanism.[2] Use of the term "abnormal uterine bleeding" is preferred in today's medicine.



10% of cases occur in women who are ovulating, but progesterone secretion is prolonged because estrogen levels are low. This causes irregular shedding of the uterine lining and break-through bleeding. Some evidence has associated Ovulatory DUB with more fragile blood vessels in the uterus.

It may represent a possible endocrine dysfunction, resulting in menorrhagia or metrorrhagia. Mid-cycle bleeding may indicate a transient estrogen decline, while late-cycle bleeding may indicate progesterone deficiency.


About 90% of DUB events occur when ovulation is not occurring (Anovulatory DUB). Anovulatory menstrual cycles are common at the extremes of reproductive age, such as early puberty and perimenopause (period around menopause). In such cases, women do not properly develop and release a mature egg. When this happens, the corpus luteum, which is a mound of tissue that produces progesterone, does not form. As a result, estrogen is produced continuously, causing an overgrowth of the uterus lining. The period is delayed in such cases, and when it occurs menstruation can be very heavy and prolonged. Sometimes anovulatory DUB is due to a delay in the full maturation of the reproductive system in teenagers. Usually, however, the mechanisms are unknown.

The cause can be psychological stress, weight (obesity, anorexia, or a rapid change), exercise, endocrinopathy, neoplasm, drugs, or it may be otherwise unknown.

Assessment of anovulatory DUB should always start with a good medical history and physical examination. Laboratory assessment of hemoglobin, luteinizing hormone (LH), follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), prolactin, T4, thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), pregnancy (by βhCG), and androgen profile should also happen. More extensive testing might include an ultrasound and endometrial sampling.,


Drug of choice is progesterone. Management of dysfunctional uterine bleeding predominantly consists of reassurance, though mid-cycle estrogen and late-cycle progestin can be used for mid- and late-cycle bleeding respectively.

Also, non-specific hormonal therapy such as combined high-dose estrogen and high-dose progestin can be given. Ormeloxifene is a non-hormonal medication that treats DUB but is only legally available in India.

The goal of therapy should be to arrest bleeding, replace lost iron to avoid anemia, and prevent future bleeding.

Excessive movement before any treatments or surgeries will cause excessive bleeding.

A hysterectomy may be performed in some cases.[3]


  1. ^ Bravender T, Emans SJ (June 1999). "Menstrual disorders. Dysfunctional uterine bleeding". Pediatr. Clin. North Am. 46 (3): 545–53, viii. PMID 10384806. 
  2. ^ "Dysfunctional Uterine Bleeding". Retrieved 2010-01-23. 
  3. ^ Bourdrez P, Bongers MY, Mol BW (July 2004). "Treatment of dysfunctional uterine bleeding: patient preferences for endometrial ablation, a levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine device, or hysterectomy". Fertil. Steril. 82 (1): 160–6, quiz 265. doi:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2003.12.025. PMID 15237006. 

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