The experience of girls and young Women with inherited bleeding disorders

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Abstract

Haemophilia carriers and women with inherited bleeding disorders (IBD) experience menorrhagia, bleed following dentistry, surgery, injury or childbirth. Symptoms are easily treated leading to full and active lives. Nevertheless, some girls and women suffer with abnormal bleeding for many years before diagnosis. We explored the experiences of girls and young women (aged 9–34 years) with IBD by means of focus groups which consisted of moderated discussion addressing specific aspects of bleeding, management and coping strategies. Subsequently, these issues were explored further though a paper-based questionnaire distributed via five specialist haemophilia centres in the UK. The study suggested that young women with IBD who are managed at haemophilia centres receive appropriate care and feel well supported. Although the clinic-based literature available to these women is “fit for purpose”, it does not fully address the perceived needs specifically regarding sex, menorrhagia, conception and childbirth, the Pill, tattoos/piercings and so on, leading many to turn to other information sources. Most of those who responded to our survey are confident in their lives, able to manage their IBD and take pragmatic views towards the inherited nature of their condition. But there is a substantial subgroup of women who experience stigmatization, isolation and bullying and express concerns relating to fertility and conception. Overall, this cohort would benefit from opportunities for mutual support. This could be via Internet-based social networking and may be of particular value to those who are unable to seek help from traditional medical services due to religious or other cultural barriers.

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