Improving care and treatment options for women and girls with bleeding disorders

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Abstract

Women and girls may experience increased bleeding symptoms as carriers of haemophilia. They can also be affected by other hereditary bleeding diatheses such as von Willebrand disease, platelet dysfunction defects or deficiencies of coagulation factors (F) such as FI, FII, FV, FVII, FX, FXI and FXIII. In addition to general bleeding symptoms, such disorders pose unique problems for women due to their impact on reproductive health. Women and adolescent girls with undiagnosed bleeding disorders frequently experience heavy menstrual bleeding (HMB; menorrhagia), leading to impairment of daily activities. Other gynaecological and obstetric manifestations, for example miscarriage, bleeding during pregnancy and postpartum haemorrhage (PPH), can occur. Treatment for HMB should consider patient wishes relating to preservation of fertility, and management options include hormonal measures, desmopressin, antifibrinolytics, platelet concentrate transfusions and clotting factor therapy. During pregnancy, monitoring clotting factor levels informs the need for prophylactic therapy; subsequent haemostatic cover can minimise PPH. Under-recognition of bleeding disorders in females may lead to inappropriate, or lack of, treatment. This may be avoided by increased disease awareness, prompt and accurate diagnosis, and a multidisciplinary approach to patient care. This review considers the range of hereditary bleeding disorders that may affect women and adolescent girls, and their evaluation and management.

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