Skip to Main Content

For further information, see CMDT Part 18-02: Postmenopausal Vaginal Bleeding

Key Features

Essentials of Diagnosis

  • Vaginal bleeding that occurs 6 months or more following cessation of menstrual cycles

  • Postmenopausal bleeding of any amount always should be evaluated

  • Transvaginal ultrasound measurement of the endometrium is an important tool in evaluating the etiology of postmenopausal bleeding

General Considerations

  • Most common causes

    • Atrophic endometrium

    • Endometrial proliferation or hyperplasia

    • Endometrial or cervical cancer

    • Administration of estrogens without added progestin

  • Other causes include

    • Atrophic vaginitis

    • Trauma

    • Endometrial polyps

    • Friction ulcers of the cervix associated with prolapse of the uterus

    • Blood dyscrasias

Clinical Findings

Symptoms and Signs

  • Bleeding of any amount in a postmenopausal woman should always be investigated

  • The vulva and vagina should be inspected for areas of bleeding, ulcers, or neoplasms

Differential Diagnosis

  • Atrophic endometrium

  • Endometrial hyperplasia or proliferation

  • Endometrial cancer

  • Atrophic vaginitis

  • Perimenopausal bleeding

  • Endometrial polyp

  • Unopposed exogenous estrogen

  • Cervical cancer

  • Uterine leiomyomas (fibroids)

  • Trauma

  • Bleeding disorder

  • Cervical polyp

  • Cervical ulcer

  • Vaginal cancer

  • Vulvar cancer

Diagnosis

Laboratory Tests

  • Cervical cytology should be obtained, if indicated

Imaging Studies

  • Transvaginal sonography should be used to measure endometrial thickness

  • A measurement of 4 mm or less indicates a low likelihood of hyperplasia or endometrial cancer, although up to 4% of endometrial cancers may be missed with sonography

Diagnostic Procedures

  • If the endometrial thickness is > 4 mm and/or there is a heterogeneous appearance to the endometrium, endometrial sampling is indicated

  • Sonohysterography may be helpful in determining if the endometrial thickening is diffuse or focal

  • If thickening is diffuse, endometrial biopsy or D&C is appropriate

  • If thickening is focal, guided sampling with hysteroscopy should be done

Treatment

Medications

  • Treat simple endometrial hyperplasia with cyclic or continuous progestin therapy for 21 or 30 days of each month for 3 months

    • Medroxyprogesterone acetate, 10 mg once daily orally

    • Norethindrone acetate, 5 mg once daily orally

  • Levonorgestrel intrauterine system (LNG-IUS) is also a treatment option

Surgery

  • Endometrial biopsy or D&C may be curative

  • Repeat sampling should be performed if symptoms recur

  • Hysterectomy is indicated if endometrial hyperplasia with atypia or endometrial carcinoma is found

Outcome

Follow-Up

  • Annual visit for pelvic examination and transvaginal sonography

Complications

  • Endometrial cancer

  • Hyperplasia with atypia has a high risk of becoming adenocarcinoma of the endometrium and requires hysterectomy

Prevention

  • Avoidance of unopposed estrogen therapy

  • Weight reduction

  • Simple endometrial hyperplasia responds well to medical therapy

When to ...

Pop-up div Successfully Displayed

This div only appears when the trigger link is hovered over. Otherwise it is hidden from view.