Clinical manifestations and treatment of dysfunctional uterine bleeding

JAMA. 1993 Apr 14;269(14):1823-8.


Dysfunctional uterine bleeding is a common gynecologic disorder that can affect any woman during her reproductive years. It is a diagnosis of exclusion, and the clinician must proceed through a logical stepwise evaluation to rule out all other causes of the abnormal bleeding. In most cases dysfunctional uterine bleeding is associated with anovulation. During the pubertal and perimenopausal periods, anovulatory bleeding is a common occurrence. During these transitional states, the abnormal bleeding has a physiological basis and is secondary to an estrogen withdrawal. Anovulatory bleeding can also be associated with chronic anovulation. The chronic unopposed estrogen that characterizes this disorder causes a continuous proliferation of the endometrium; this can result in abnormal bleeding and place the patient at risk for endometrial cancer. The goals of treatment for anovulatory bleeding are to stop the acute bleeding, avert future episodes, and prevent long-term complications. In some cases surgical intervention is indicated, but the foundation of treatment has been a medical approach. Several progestational agents have demonstrated effectiveness and can be administered either orally or by intramuscular injection. If the patient fails to have resolution of the bleeding with medical therapy, another cause of the bleeding must be suspected, and reevaluation is necessary.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anovulation / etiology
  • Anovulation / physiopathology
  • Estrogens / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Menstrual Cycle
  • Ovulation / physiology
  • Progestins / therapeutic use
  • Uterine Hemorrhage / drug therapy
  • Uterine Hemorrhage / physiopathology*
  • Uterine Hemorrhage / therapy*


  • Estrogens
  • Progestins