Women with moderate and severe Von Willebrand disease have a high morbidity of gynecological and obstetric bleeding

De Wee E., Knol M., Mauser-Bunschoten E., Van Der Bom A., Degenaar-Dujardin M., Eikenboom J.C.J., Fijnvandraat K., De Goede-Bolder A., Laros-Van Gorkom B., Ypma P., Zweegman S., Meijer K.

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Introduction: Von Willebrand Disease (VWD) is the most common inherited bleeding disorder worldwide. Men and women are equally likely to be affected, but in women VWD is more often clinically manifest because of bleeding associated with menstruation and childbirth. Most studies investigating the prevalence of gynaecological bleeding problems in women with VWD are small case series of women with mainly type 1 or mild VWD. These studies may be hampered by selection bias given the fact that patients seeking medical attention for bleeding and menorrhagia have predominantly been included. Objective: The aim of our study was to assess gynaecological and obstetrical symptoms in a large unselected cohort of women with moderate and severe VWD, and to investigate whether gynaecological bleeding problems affect quality of life (QoL). Design: National cross-sectional study with patients recruited from all 13 Haemophilia Treatment Centers covering the Netherlands (the Willebrand in the Netherlands, WiN Study). Setting and Participants: For this analysis, all 423 women aged 16 years or above from the WiN cohort were included. Methods: Participants completed a detailed questionnaire, including the SF-36 for QoL and Tosetto Bleeding Score for bleeding severity. Menorrhagia was defined as the occurrence of >2 of the following symptoms: subjective excessive menstrual bleeding, loss of blood clots during menstrual bleeding, requirement of iron or blood transfusion, heavy menstrual flow that interferes with daily life, menstrual period that lasts longer than 7 days. Results: 274 out of 423 (65%) women had type 1 VWD, 135 (32%) type 2 VWD, 10 (2%) type 3 VWD, and in 4 (1%) type was not specified. Menorrhagia was reported by 79% of the women. The two most frequent symptoms were excessive menstrual bleeding (82%) and loss of blood clots (80%). Women with type 3 VWD compared to women with type 1 and 2 VWD had more days with heavy menstrual bleeding (5 days versus 4 and 3 days respectively, p=0.03) and needed iron suppletion or blood transfusion more frequently (70% versus 43% and 36% respectively, p=0.08). Compared to women without menorrhagia, women with menorrhagia had significantly lower VWF antigen levels (29 vs 34 U/dL, p=0.022) and VWF ristocetin-cofactor levels (17 vs 23 U/dL, p=0.005). Treatment for menorrhagia consisted mainly of oral contraceptives (68%) and/or tranexamic acid (31%). QoL scores of women with menorrhagia were similar to those of women without menorrhagia. However, the subgroup of women with severe menorrhagia (Tosetto Bleeding Score on the menorrhagia item 4), had significantly lower QoL scores compared to women with no menorrhagia (BSmenorrhagia 0) for all four physical domains, the vitality domain, the social functioning domain and the physical component summary. Two domains: bodily pain (difference -17 [CI -25,-8]) and general health perceptions (difference -11 [CI -18,-4]), were clinically relevant with effect sizes > 0.5. For all affected QoL domains, women with menorrhagia who used oral contraceptives or antifibrinolytics had higher scores, reflecting better QoL, than those who were not treated. Of all VWD women, 20% underwent a hysterectomy. In the group of women >40 years even 28% underwent a hysterectomy. The occurrence of postpartum hemorrhage was strongly increased compared to the general Dutch population: 24% vs 4% for primary postpartum hemorrhage, and 4% vs 2% for secondary postpartum hemorrhage. In 52% of the women with VWD who reported pregnancy losses (elective abortions, spontaneous miscarriages and fetal deaths), additional curettage was needed because of bleeding. Conclusion: Women with moderate and severe VWD frequently have menorrhagia and bleeding complications during childbirth or after pregnancy loss. These gynecological complaints are associated with a lower QoL. Treatment of menorrhagia with oral contraceptives and tranexamic acid may improve QoL.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • *bleeding
  • *female
  • *hematology
  • *human
  • *morbidity
  • *society
  • *von Willebrand disease
  • Netherlands
  • abortion
  • antigen
  • bleeding disorder
  • blood clot
  • blood transfusion
  • case study
  • childbirth
  • cross-sectional study
  • curettage
  • effect size
  • epidemiology
  • fetus death
  • health
  • hemophilia
  • hysterectomy
  • iron
  • male
  • menorrhagia
  • menstrual cycle
  • menstruation
  • oral contraceptive agent
  • pain
  • patient
  • population
  • postpartum hemorrhage
  • pregnancy
  • prevalence
  • quality of life
  • questionnaire
  • ristocetin
  • social interaction
  • spontaneous abortion
  • tranexamic acid

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