Symptoms

The symptoms of VWD vary greatly from person to person. Even members of the same family may have different symptoms.

Most people with VWD have few or no symptoms.

The more common symptoms are:

  • Having nose bleeds often or that are difficult to stop
  • Easy bruising
  • Very heavy or long menstrual periods
  • Bleeding for a long time with minor cuts
  • Bleeding from the gums
  • Bleeding after injury, surgery or dental work that continues for a long time

Bleeding in people with VWD usually involves the mucous membranes, the delicate tissues that line body passages such as the nose, mouth, uterus, vagina, stomach and intestines.

Less common symptoms that older people might experience are:

  • Blood in faeces (bowel motions/poo) from bleeding in the intestines or stomach
  • Blood in urine from bleeding in the kidneys or bladder

People with severe forms of VWD, particularly type 3 VWD, may also have other bleeding problems similar to haemophilia, such as:

  • Bleeding episodes that are spontaneous or happen for no obvious reason.
  • Bleeding into joints and muscles which can cause swelling and pain.

The types of symptoms a person with VWD experiences can change over their lifetime. For example, they may have nosebleeds and easy bruising as a child and find this occurs less often as they grow older. However, their type of VWD will not change.

Women are more likely to show symptoms of VWD than men. Without treatment, women with VWD often bleed more or for longer than normal with menstruation (their period). Some women with VWD also have heavy bleeding a few days or weeks after giving birth and some have a lot of period pain or irregular periods. However, these symptoms are not always related to VWD and may have other causes. An assessment by a gynaecologist is an important part of understanding and treating these symptoms effectively.


Date last reviewed: June 2010