Do you know this key sign of gynae cancers?

Becky Banham
By Becky Banham,
updated on Sep 9, 2020

Do you know this key sign of gynae cancers?

The Eve Appeal wants us to be aware of a key symptom of three types of gynaecological cancer: abnormal vaginal bleeding

It’s about time, but women’s health issues and experiences are finally becoming less taboo. Periods, endometriosis, miscarriage, infertility, menopause - they’re all topics that are no longer brushed under the carpet because, quite frankly, they really shouldn’t be.

However, something that we don’t really talk about is abnormal or unexpected bleeding. I mean, it certainly wouldn’t be my first choice of a conversation starter with the girls. But, not only are we not talking to each other about it, we’re not talking to health professionals either.

A survey of 3,000 women by charity The Eve Appeal found that 80% of women wouldn’t visit their GP if they experienced an unexpected vaginal bleed. This is concerning, because it’s a key symptom of three of the five gynae cancers - womb, cervical and vaginal cancer - which, together, affect 12,750 women in the UK every year.

So, why aren’t we talking about this? Well, it’s perhaps unsurprising when you consider that almost three-quarters (72%) of women say they weren’t taught how to identify when something was wrong with their periods at school.

How to spot abnormal bleeding

As it’s often the first symptom to present with these types of cancer, here are some key signs to look for:

  • Bleeding after the menopause
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Bleeding that is heavier or more painful than usual
  • Bleeding after sex

Something else to look out for is any change in your vaginal discharge – from blood-stained to a light or dark brown colour. If something doesn’t seem quite right, then speak to your doctor.

What is abnormal vaginal bleeding?

Of course, abnormal bleeding isn’t always a sign of cancer, but it’s best to get it checked for peace of mind. But, although it’s easy to spot, we often don’t get it investigated - perhaps because we put it down as “just one of those things”, or are embarrassed or worried about going to see the GP.

However, it’s important to remember that picking up on the early signs and symptoms of these diseases is critical in getting as early a diagnosis as possible, to give you the best possible outcome.

To do that, it’s really important to know what is (and isn’t) normal for you, so that when something isn’t quite right, you can feel more confident in seeking medical advice. Tracking your bleeding can be really helpful.

If you have periods, there are plenty of cycle tracking apps you can use to do this, or you could just make a note in a diary. If you don’t have periods, but experience any other vaginal bleeding, you should track that too. Regularly checking back over your entries can help you to keep an eye on any gradual changes and spot abnormalities.

View this post on Instagram

Abnormal bleeding is a symptom of THREE out of the FIVE gynae cancers: Womb, cervical and vaginal. An abnormal bleed is often the first symptom that a woman notices, and although it is easy to spot, sadly it is all too often still easy to ignore. Women can be hesitant to get bleeding checked for a number of reasons, from not realising it is a potential symptom, to embarrassment, fear, or difficulty getting to the GP. 72% of women surveyed (@Freeda_en poll) were also not taught how to spot when something is wrong with their periods at school, we are Going Red through the ‘hole’ of September, yes ‘hole’, so that every woman knows how to spot abnormal bleeding and can go get checked as soon as possible. To be able to spot abnormal bleeding, you first need to know your normal. We want everyone who has vaginal bleeding to track it, so that you can easily spot when something changes for you, our tips on tracking your bleeding, approved by the @rcobsgyn are in the link in our bio and can help you track your bleeding. You can use any of the period tracking apps or just your calendar. Use red dots if it helps you visualise your flow, one for light, two for medium etc. View our website to find out more tips on tracking your bleeding and share them eveappeal.org.uk/trackingtips to help spread the word. #GoRed #GCAM #GynaeCancerAwarenessMonth #GetBleedingChecked #TrackingTips #KnowYourNormal #EveAppeal #TheEveAppeal

A post shared by The Eve Appeal (@eveappeal) on

The Eve Appeal - Tracking your period and unusual bleeding

To mark Gynaecological Cancer Awareness Month this September, The Eve Appeal has teamed up with the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) to share tips to help women spot abnormal vaginal bleeding.

The charity is also calling for us to Go Red and raise awareness of this key red flag symptom so that every woman knows her normal and gets bleeding checked.

Simply download your free fundraising pack, pick a date in September, then invite friends, family and colleagues to your online party, wear Red and raise much-needed funds and awareness.

Join 100,000+ subscribers

Stay in the loop with everything Happiful

We care about your data, read our privacy policy
Our Vision

We’re on a mission to create a healthier, happier, more sustainable society.