Bleeding and clotting disorders pose important problems for women because of the relationship of these disorders to reproductive issues. These problems include heavy menstrual bleeding (termed menorrhagia), bleeding and clotting complications of pregnancy, and recurrent fetal loss.
Menorrhagia can be incapacitating for some women and may suggest a bleeding disorder. Current research supports the hypothesis that a significant number of cases of unexplained menorrhagia may be due to an underlying bleeding disorder. Other symptoms of a bleeding disorder might include unusually hard-to-control bleeding after minor injury, childbirth, or surgery; excessive bleeding from the gums after flossing, brushing, or having a tooth removed; frequent or long nosebleeds; and easy bruising.
The most common bleeding disorder is von Willebrand disease (VWD). VWD results from a deficiency or defect in the body's ability to make von Willebrand factor, a protein that helps blood clot. Although VWD occurs in men and women equally, women are more likely to notice the symptoms because of heavy or abnormal bleeding during their menstrual periods and after childbirth.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has made recommendations to screen women with menorrhagia for VWD.* Women who should be tested include
adolescents with severe menorrhagia (they should be tested before hormone therapy is prescribed)
adult women with significant menorrhagia that cannot be explained by other causes
women who are about to have hysterectomies for excessive menstrual bleeding
Although there is no cure for these bleeding disorders, treatment is available to control symptoms once a disorder is identified. Bleeding can be controlled with medications.
This page was last updated April 05, 2004