Gynaecological and obstetrical morbidity in women with type I von Willebrand disease: results of a patient survey


Peter A.KouidesMD Medical Director, Mary M. Gooley Hemophilia Center, Inc. 1425 Portland Ave., Rochester, New York, USA. Fax: 1 716 922 4622; e-mail:


Type 1 von Willebrand disease (vWD) is generally regarded clinically as ‘mild’ and the obstetrical–gynaecological features have not been fully described. We administered a patient questionnaire and provider survey of the medical and quality of life aspects of childbirth and menstruation to 99 type 1 vWD patients and compared the patients presently menstruating (n=81) to a cohort of 150 menstruating females in the general population. The following measurements had a statistically higher proportion in the vWD group: number of tampons/towels used for a typical menstrual cycle (P=0.002); percentage reporting that clothes are stained by menses (P = 0.001); past or present history of anaemia (P = 0.001); childbirth-related bleeding (P=0.001); and childbirth-related bleeding necessitating RBC transfusion (P=0.002). Quality of life assessment of the impact of menses in both of the above cohorts was measured by a Likert scale using seven quality of life parameters. Compared to the control group, the vWD patients had a significantly higher score, with P-values of < 0.0001 for each parameter. Hormonal interventions for menorrhagia in the vWD patients were ≤ 50% effective. Menorrhagia resulted in red blood cell transfusions in 6% of patients, dilatation and curettage in 17% and hysterectomy in 13%. Despite the common connotation of type 1 vWD as clinically ‘mild’, childbirth and the monthly challenge to haemostasis presented by menstruation result in a substantial degree of morbidity in females with type 1 vWD. These results support the rationale for ongoing international efforts to increase awareness of vWD as a cause for menorrhagia and to improve the quality of life in females with known vWD.