Column: Heavy periods could signify a bleeding disorder

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Commentary by Sweta Gupta

It’s commonly believed that women and girls can’t have bleeding disorders. People often think only boys and men experience compromised clotting (the body’s natural ability to stop bleeding).

But women and girls can have bleeding disorders, and their first symptom could be heavier-than-normal menstrual bleeding which can pose significant issues. If not addressed, an undiagnosed bleeding disorder could present a host of challenges in the event of an accident, surgical procedure, pregnancy or drug interaction.

Heavy menstrual bleeding (HBM) symptoms include:

  • Period lasting longer than seven days
  • Soaking through a pad or tampon in 1-2 hours
  • Passing clots larger than the size of a quarter
  • Iron deficiency, anemia, or need for blood transfusion
  • Missing days of school or work due to bleeding

In September 2019, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said teens with HBM should be screened for bleeding disorders. While bleeding disorders affect 1-2 percent of the general population, they’re found in approximately 20 percent of adolescent girls who are evaluated for HBM and in 33 percent of adolescent girls hospitalized for HBM, wrote members of the ACOG Committee on Adolescent Health Care in the opinion, published in Obstetrics & Gynecology.

The Indiana Hemophilia & Thrombosis Center in Indianapolis, 8326 Naab Rd, offers a Girls Only Clinic to screen adolescent girls, ages 11-18 years, with HBM for bleeding disorders. The clinic offers the combined expertise of a pediatric hematologist and an adolescent medicine specialist twice a month. Evaluations include complete laboratory workup to rule out a bleeding disorder and to identify hormonal/ gynecological issues. Safe and individualized hormonal therapy consultation is provided along with ongoing follow-up care. If a bleeding disorder is diagnosed, comprehensive care and regular follow up is provided at IHTC.

For more, visit ihtc.org/girlsonly.

Sweta Gupta is a pediatric hematologist and a Carmel resident.

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