Von Willebrands Disease

Von Willebrand’s is an inherited blood clotting condition that leads to abnormal bleeding similar to haemophilia. It can affect both men and women, unlike haemophilia and it is thought that about 1 in 100 women suffers from it so it is worth getting this checked out if you are contemplating a hysterectomy because of heavy bleeding.

It can be a gynaecological condition in women in that it can cause heavy bleeding/mennorhagia.   There are three different types of Von Willebrands.  Normally, in those who are only mildly affected, the results will be nose bleeds, easy bruising and heavy periods, this affects around 75% of women affected.  The rarer, more severe type is similar to haemophilia with similar consequences.  Although it is known that there are about 5,000 people with von Willebrand’s currently in the UK, it is thought that there are many more who are still undiagnosed as it is believed to affect up to 1% of the population.

If the condition is mild, no treatment is normally needed, however if the symptoms are severe or you are suffering from type three then you may be given one of the following drugs:

  • Tranexamic acid and similar drugs which help to prevent clots being broken down once they’ve formed
  • Thrombin which is a natural clotting agent
  • Desmopressin, which is a synthetic hormone that is used to release VWF (Von Willebrands Factor) from the lining of blood vessels
  • A concentrate of VWF and factor VIII which are blood derivatives used in more serious VWD

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