What are the most common signs and symptoms of VWD?

Because VWF is important for blood clotting, people with VWD can experience excessive and/or prolonged bleeding from a wound or during normal bleeding (e.g. menstruation). VWD signs and symptoms do vary depending on the severity of the disease and the site of bleeding, and everyone is affected differently.

Signs may include easy bruising, prolonged bleeding even from minor wounds, frequent or heavy nosebleeds, bleeding from the gums and heavy menstrual bleeding (menorrhagia). Prolonged or excessive bleeds can also occur after childbirth, surgery, tooth extraction and trauma.

More serious but less common bleeding events are gastrointestinal bleeding, haematomas (swellings of congealed blood), and haemarthrosis (bleeding into joints).

Many people with VWD will only experience excessive or prolonged bleeds during surgery or trauma. Others may bleed more frequently and sometimes without any obvious cause.

How is VWD diagnosed?

VWD will usually be diagnosed in a center that specialises in bleeding disorders. It is important to seek specialist advice if you suspect you have VWD as many doctors may be unfamiliar with it and how to manage it.

The earlier you can get an accurate diagnosis the earlier you can start making informed choices about your treatment and your lifestyle.

Many factors are considered when diagnosing VWD such as:

Current symptoms, a history of bleeding, a family history of bleeding. A bleeding questionnaire may be used.

Laboratory tests, which test the amount of VWF and how well it functions, the amount of FVIII, and the ability of the blood to clot.

A gene mutation analysis may also be performed.