Special issues for girls and women
Women with clotting factor deficiencies tend to have more symptoms than men because of menstruation and childbirth. Girls may have especially heavy bleeding when they begin to menstruate. Women with clotting factor deficiencies may have heavier and/or longer menstrual flow, which can cause anemia (low levels of iron, which results in weakness and fatigue).
Women with clotting factor deficiencies should receive genetic counseling about the risks of having an affected child well in advance of any planned pregnancies and should see an obstetrician as soon as they suspect they are pregnant. The obstetrician should work closely with the staff of the hemophilia/bleeding disorder treatment centre in order to provide the best care during pregnancy and childbirth and to minimize the potential complications for both the mother and the newborn.
Women with certain factor deficiencies (such as factor XIII deficiency and afibrinogenemia) may be at greater risk of miscarriage and placental abruption (a premature separation of the placenta from the uterus that disrupts the flow of blood and oxygen to the fetus). Therefore, these women require treatment throughout the pregnancy to prevent these complications.
The main risk related to pregnancy is postpartum hemorrhage. All bleeding disorders are associated with a greater risk of increased bleeding after delivery. The risk and the severity of the bleeding can be reduced with appropriate treatment. This treatment is different for each woman and depends on her personal and family history of bleeding symptoms, the severity of the factor deficiency, and the mode of delivery (vaginal birth vs. cesarean section). Factor replacement may be necessary in some cases.
Content developed by the WFH von Willebrand Disease and Rare Bleeding Disorders Committee.
Updated May 2012