Dysfunctional uterine bleeding

This diagnosis should be used only when all organic causes are ruled-out, which generally does not occur in the ED. See nonpregnant vaginal bleeding for the general approach.


Vaginal Bleeding Definitions

  • Menorrhagia: >7 day (prolonged) or >80 mL/day (excessive) uterine bleeding at regular intervals
  • Metrorrhagia: irregular vaginal bleeding outside the normal cycle
  • Menometrorrhagia - Excessive irregular vaginal bleeding
  • Intermenstrual bleeding - variable amounts between regular menstrual periods
  • Midcycle spotting - spotting just before ovulation (due to decline in estrogen)
  • Postmenopausal bleeding - recurrence of bleeding after menopause
  • Polymenorrhea: Frequent and light bleeding
  • Postcoital bleeding: vaginal bleeding after intercourse, suggesting cervical pathology
  • Postmenopausal bleeding: Any bleeding that occurs >6 mo after cessation of menstruation
  • The International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) introduced a new classification system known by the acronym PALM-COEIN
  • PALM: structural causes
    • Polyp (AUB-P)
    • Adenomyosis (AUB-A)
    • Leiomyoma (AUB-L)
    • Malignancy and hyperplasia (AUB-M)
  • COEIN: nonstructural causes
    • Coagulopathy (AUB-C)
    • Ovulatory dysfunction (AUB-O)
    • Endometrial (AUB-E)
    • Iatrogenic (AUB-I)
    • Not yet classified (AUB-N)

Clinical Features

Differential Diagnosis

Nonpregnant Vaginal Bleeding

Systemic Causes

  • Cirrhosis
  • Coagulopathy (Von Willebrand, ITP)
  • Group A strep vaginitis (prepubertal girls)
  • Hormone replacement therapy
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Secondary anovulation

Reproductive Tract Causes


  • See nonpregnant vaginal bleeding for general approach
  • This diagnosis generally requires a endocervical curettage/endometrial biopsy to have been performed


Heavy bleeding

  • Fluid admin
  • Estrogen-progestin OCP until gyn follow up

Severe Bleeding

  • Maintain hemodynamics
  • Consider IV conjugated estrogen (Premarin) 25mg IV q4-6 hrs until bleeding stops
  • Continued severe bleeding requires D&C