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Bleeding after menopause

Does bleeding after the menopause always mean cancer?

No, but cancer needs to be ruled out as a possible cause.

Post menopausal bleeding is quite common. It is usually due to harmless causes. But you should see your doctor as it may be caused by cancer of the lining of the womb (endometrial cancer) or cancer of the cervix. About 1 in 20 cases of bleeding after the menopause are due to gynaecological cancer.

The most common symptom of cervical cancer is abnormal bleeding. This means any bleeding between periods or after sexual intercourse in a pre menopausal woman. Or bleeding in a post menopausal woman. Other symptoms are

  • A vaginal discharge which may smell
  • Pain or discomfort during sexual intercourse

But bleeding from the vagina in an older woman may be caused by other gynaecological problems such as fibroids (benign growths) in the womb.

It is important to see your doctor if you have any of the symptoms listed above. And you should still have regular cervical screening until you are at least 64 and have had three clear screening tests (smears) in a row. If you are concerned about stopping these screening tests, talk to your GP. You may be able to carry on having them.

We have information about cervical screening and abnormal cervical cells in our cervical cancer section. We also have information about the symptoms of womb cancer.

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Updated: 10 June 2014