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Keywords:

  • bleeding disorders;
  • menorrhagia;
  • platelet dysfunction

Summary.  Menorrhagia is a common clinical problem and is unexplained in more than 50% of women. Although studies suggest that von Willebrand's Disease (VWD) is found in a substantial number of women with unexplained menorrhagia, the prevalence of platelet defects in women with menorrhagia is unknown. To determine the prevalence of platelet and other hemostatic defects, we evaluated women ages 17–55 diagnosed with unexplained menorrhagia. Seventy-four women (52 white, 16 black, six other) were studied. Bleeding time was prolonged in 23 women (31.5%). Maximal percent platelet aggregation was decreased with one or more agonists in 35 (47.3%) women. The most commonly found platelet function defects were reduced aggregation responses to ristocetin in 22 women and to epinephrine in 16 women. Sixteen of 22 women with reduced ristocetin aggregation had von Willebrand ristocetin cofactor (VWF:RCo) and von Willebrand factor antigen (VWF:Ag) > 60%. Platelet ATP release was decreased with one or more agonists in 43 (58.1%) women. Of the black women studied, 11/16 (69%) had abnormal platelet aggregation studies compared with 20/52 white women (39%) (P = 0.06). Black women with menorrhagia had a higher prevalence of decreased platelet aggregation in response to ristocetin and epinephrine than did white women (P = 0.0075, P = 0.02). Ten women (13.5%) had VWF:RCo and/or VWF:Ag < 60%. Using race and blood group specific ranges, 5 (6.8%) women had decreased VWF:RCo, VWF:Ag and/or collagen binding (VWF:CB). Mild factor XI deficiency was found in two women and one woman with mild factor V deficiency and one hemophilia A carrier were identified. We conclude that the prevalence of platelet function defects and other inherited bleeding disorders is substantial in a multiracial US population of women with unexplained menorrhagia.