When detected early, most conditions that cause post-menopausal bleeding can be treated successfully, which was the case for Nott.
But according to The Eve Appeal, a charity funding research and raising awareness about the five gynaecological cancers – womb, ovarian, cervical, vulval and vaginal – 80 per cent of women wouldn’t go to the GP if they experienced an unexpected vaginal bleed.
The cancer prevention charity has teamed up with the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) for September’s Gynaecological Cancer Awareness Month, for their Go Red campaign.
The campaign aims to raise awareness and support women in spotting when vaginal bleeding is abnormal, and when it’s time to seek medical attention. Abnormal can be anything from bleeding in between periods, bleeding after sex, bleeding after the menopause or bleeding that is much heavier or more painful than what is normal for you.
“Don’t ignore the red flags,” says Karen Hobbs, the cancer information officer who run’s the charity’s Ask Eve information and advice line.
“Generally you don’t go through the menopause until your mid-fifties, with the average age being 51. So it’s easy to think: “Oh, this is just a period,” because you’ve just spent the last 40 years having them. But it’s important for this conversation to be normalised and for women to get to know their bodies better.
“The cold hard facts tell us that about 5 per cent of the time post-menopausal bleeding is due to cancer. So it’s not often, but it’s also not nothing. It’s the equivalent to one person out of 20 and that’s one person’s mother, sister, wife or friend.
“When our oestrogen levels drop as we go through menopause, skin everywhere becomes drier and less plump, which means the skin in our vagina becomes thinner and drier, so we may bleed more easily after sex. But that’s really easily sorted with things such as oestrogen creams. But the point is, we want people to seek advice anyway, so for the few with something serious, it can be caught early. Because cancer, when caught early, can be treated. It’s always worth getting checked out.”
Apart from signing up for a free fundraising pack and picking a date in September to host your own virtual party to raise much-needed funds and awareness, The Eve Appeal has developed a set of tips, approved by the RCOG, to help women know when it’s time to get their bleeding checked.