Do Your Periods Last a Week? You Could Have This Disease
Normally, a woman’s period lasts three to seven days but what if it lasts more than a week? This unusual occurrence can be a clue to a more serious condition called von Willebrand Disease.
What is von Willebrand Disease?
Von Willebrand Disease, or VWD, is a genetic bleeding disorder. It is caused by a missing or defective von Willebrand Factor or VWF that is coded on Chromosome 12. VWF is an essential protein that helps your blood to clot. When one of your blood vessels breaks, perhaps by a cut or blunt trauma, bleeding occurs. “VWF binds to factor VIII, a key clotting protein, and platelets in blood vessel walls, which help form a platelet plug during the clotting process.” “If your levels of functional VWF are low, your platelets won’t be able to clot properly. This leads to prolonged bleeding.”
This condition may sound a lot like hemophilia, another bleeding disorder, but it’s actually quite different. The physician who first discovered this condition in the 1920s was Erik von Willebrand. Currently, up to 1 percent of the total US population is affected by this disease, making VWD the most common bleeding disorder in the country.
Depending on whether this defective gene was inherited or not determines which of the below four types of VWD develop. If one inherited only one copy of the defective gene she/he will develop type 1 or type 2.
Type 1 von Willebrand Disease
Type 1 causes one to have low levels of VWF in the body. This may cause mild bleeding issues but usually most affected are able to lead normal lives. This is the most common type of VWD, affecting up to 80% of those who have VWD.
Type 2 von Willebrand Disease
In type 2 one actually has normal levels of VWF but they don’t work properly because of defects in their structures and functionality. Symptoms are usually mild to moderate.
Type 3 von Willebrand Disease
In this type, one inherits the defective gene from both parents which means that the body doesn’t produce any VWF. Blood won’t clot and and bleeding is very difficult to stop. This is the most dangerous type of VWD.
Type 4 von Willebrand Disease
This type of VWD is acquired and is often discovered “after a diagnosis of an autoimmune disease, such as lupus, or from heart disease or some types of cancer. It can also occur after taking certain medications.”
Symptoms That One May Have VWD
Symptoms vary depending on what type of VWD one has but symptoms commonly include:
If you think that you might be affected by VWD it is recommended that you see a doctor for proper diagnosis. She/he will ask you about your family history and conduct blood tests to see if you are affected. If you are affected s/he can offer numerous treatment options to help you deal with VWD. If you have VWD, doctors will likely tell you to avoid taking aspirins and NSAIDs like naproxen and ibuprofen. To help deal with excessive bleeding you should also consider getting period panties. Period panties are special panties that have a built in liner to help trap your leaks. They are full coverage yet are thin and not bulky. Learn more about period panties here.