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Articles » BLEEDING DISORDERS: NWHIC
 

BLEEDING DISORDERS: NWHIC

Article title: BLEEDING DISORDERS: NWHIC

Conditions: bleeding disorders, Von Willebrand disease, menorrhagia

Source: NWHIC


BLEEDING DISORDERS

I have heard that hemophilia only occurs in men. Why should I be interested in bleeding disorders?
I have very heavy periods that last a long time. Should I worry?
Why is it important to diagnose bleeding disorders in women?

See also...

I have heard that hemophilia only occurs in men. Why should I be interested in bleeding disorders?

It is true that hemophilia, the most widely known bleeding disorder, occurs almost exclusively in males. However, other bleeding disorders do occur in women. Unfortunately, these disorders are often overlooked in women. If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, talk to your doctor about tests for bleeding disorders.

  • Heavy menstrual bleeding

  • Easy bruising

  • Frequent nose bleeds

  • Unusual bleeding from the mouth or gums

  • Excessive bleeding after dental work

I have very heavy periods that last a long time. Should I worry?

Though many women experience heavy bleeding that is considered to be in the normal range, your doctor should be aware of any heavy bleeding. Only your doctor can accurately evaluate your individual situation.

Called menorrhagia, prolonged or excessive menstrual bleeding can sometimes be an indicator of other problems. The possibilities are vast: infection, pregnancy-related bleeding, tumors, systemic diseases, hormone imbalance, and others.

However, if your heavy bleeding started at or near your first period, there is a high probability that it is caused by a coagulopathy (bleeding disorder). Of the 15-20% of U.S. women who suffer from menorrhagia, as many as 20% of them may have a bleeding disorder. The most common inherited bleeding disorder in women is Von Willebrand disease.

Why is it important to diagnose bleeding disorders in women?

Because the standard treatments for heavy menstrual bleeding; dilation and curettage (D&C), laparoscopy, or endometrial biopsy, may worsen blood loss in a woman with these disorders. In one study of females with Von Willebrand disease, the single most common congenital bleeding disorder, over 90% had experienced heavy menstrual bleeding. One quarter of them had undergone hysterectomy, often to alleviate the heavy menstrual bleeding. Correct diagnosis can help women avoid potentially dangerous bleeding during surgery or dental procedures. All that is needed to diagnose Von Willebrand disease is a simple coagulation blood test.

Occasionally, a woman may have Von Willebrand disease, or other bleeding disorder, and not have heavy periods. If you have any of the following symptoms, you should also discuss them with your doctor.

  • Easy bruising

  • Frequent nose bleeds

  • Unusual bleeding from the mouth or gums

  • Excessive bleeding after you have a tooth pulled

Note: Von Willebrand disease is a genetic disorder inherited from either parent. It also occurs in men.

Reference:

Wallis, LA, cd.: Textbook of Women's Health, 1997, New York: Lippencott-Raven. 604-608. National hemophilia Foundation, pamphlet, Anyone can have a bleeding disorder. Blomback E. M., et al, On the value of menorrhagia as a predictor for coagulation disorders. Am. J. Med. 1996; 53:234-8. Wallis L.A., ed.: Textbook of women's Health, 1997, New York: Lippencott-Raven. 604-605. National Hemophilia Foundation, pamphlet, Anyone can have a bleeding disorder.

For More Information...

You can find out more about bleeding disorders by contacting the following organizations:

Hematologic Diseases Branch

National Hemophilia Foundation

World Federation of Hemophilia

Contributing to this FAQ on Bleeding Disorders: Magee Women's Hospital/University of Pittsburgh, a National Center of Excellence in Women's Health, sponsored by the Office on Women's Health in the Department of Health and Human Services

All material contained in the FAQs is free of copyright restrictions, and may be copied, reproduced, or duplicated without permission of the Office on Women's Health in the Department of Health and Human Services; citation of the source is appreciated.

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Publication date: 1998

 


 

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