Bleeding Disorders in Women
Did you know that heavy, prolonged menstrual bleeding (bleeding during a woman’s period) may be a sign of a bleeding disorder in women? As many as 1% of women in the United States may have a bleeding disorder, but many women are not aware of the condition despite having symptoms. Learn more about bleeding disorders in women. Take steps to understand if you are at risk for a bleeding disorder.
Bleeding disorders have a significant impact on a woman’s reproductive health and quality of life. The most common bleeding disorder in women is von Willebrand disease (VWD), which occurs when the blood lacks a certain protein that helps the blood to clot, resulting in excessive or prolonged bleeding. Women with bleeding disorders can experience anemia (low number of red blood cells in the blood) causing one to feel tired and weak, pain during a menstrual period, limitations in daily activities, and a reduced quality of life. It is important for women to know the signs and symptoms of a bleeding disorder and to talk to their doctors if they have symptoms.
Signs and Symptoms
Menorrhagia (Heavy Menstrual Bleeding)
Women are more likely to notice symptoms of a bleeding disorder because of their menstrual period. Heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding, also known as menorrhagia, can be a sign of a bleeding disorder.
Menorrhagia is menstrual bleeding that lasts for more than 7 days or when menstrual bleeding is heavy. Heavy bleeding is when a tampon or pad needs to be changed after less than 2 hours or if there are clots the size of a quarter or larger.
If you think your menstrual period might be heavy, print and use a menstrual chart to track your bleeding and talk to your doctor about it. Heavy bleeding can cause you to feel tired or weak from anemia and can lead to other preventable health problems. If menorrhagia is left untreated, it could lead to more serious but potentially avoidable medical procedures, such as a hysterectomy (a surgery to remove a woman’s uterus or womb).
Women experiencing heavy bleeding should talk to their doctors about their symptoms and seek treatment to avoid more serious health problems.
Other Symptoms of a Bleeding Disorder
- Received treatment for anemia or been told you’re “low in iron.”
- Heavy bleeding after dental surgery, other surgery, or childbirth.
- Prolonged bleeding episodes as a result of the following:
- Dental surgery, other surgery, or childbirth
- Nose bleed (bleeding longer than 10 minutes)
- Cut or injury (bleeding longer than 5 minutes)
- Easy and frequent bruising (weekly or more frequent, raised, and larger than a quarter in size)
- Having a family member who has a bleeding disorder, such as VWD or hemophilia.
Are You at Risk?
In partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Hemophilia Foundation launched the Better You Know campaign to raise awareness and knowledge of bleeding disorders. The campaign focuses on men and women who experience symptoms of a bleeding disorder but have not yet been diagnosed.
Bleeding disorders in women and the symptoms, such as menorrhagia, can be treated. If you have any of the symptoms listed above, it’s important to know your risk for having a bleeding disorder and get diagnosed. Your life can be better if you know. Take the first step toward finding out if you are at risk for a bleeding disorder by taking a simple, online risk assessment at betteryouknow.org and talking to your doctor about your results.
Your life can be better if you know. Better if you seek care. Better if you get treatment.
Find resources and information on bleeding disorders from the Better You Know campaign here.
Learn more about bleeding disorders in women by visiting CDC’s webpage here.