On International Women’s Day we say “Women have bleeding disorders too”
Historically, Haemophilia, and often other bleeding disorders too, have been thought of as only affecting men. Haemophilia is often used as an example, in medical books, of a condition which is passed on by mothers and experienced by sons. As a result there is a constant need to raise awareness that women are affected by bleeding disorders too. At a recent European Haemophilia Consortium (EHC) meeting on von Willebrand Disease highlighted the need to continue to improving treatment for affected women. In fact many women who carry the Haemophilia gene have low clotting factor levels themselves. In the past, people in this situation have been referred to as symptomatic carriers but increasingly women are referring to themselves as having Mild Haemophilia. The most common bleeding disorder is von Willebrand Disease and it effects men and women equally. However, women with vWD tend to have more symptoms than men because of menstruation and childbirth. Girls may have especially heavy bleeding when they begin to menstruate. Women with VWD often have heavier and/or longer menstrual flow. This heavier menstrual flow can cause anemia (low levels of iron in the blood, causing weakness and fatigue). The stigma around menstrual bleeding can also make it difficult for some women to seek help. Often people don’t talk about how heavy bleeding is which means some women don’t realise that their bleeding is unusual. Every woman is different, and what is considered “normal” for one woman may be “excessive” for another. The average amount of blood lost during a “normal” period is 30-40 mL. Blood loss of 80 mL or more is considered heavy. If you are thinking about discussing this with your GP it could be useful to complete an assessment chart during your next period. This is only a guide, but it can be a useful tool for you and your doctor to use when assessing your menstrual flow. Find out more about Haemophilia Scotland’s plans to provide support in Scotland for women with bleeding disorders in Scotland.