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A day in the life of a vWD woman: Ria’s story

A day in the life of a vWD woman: Ria’s story

The theme of this year’s World Haemophilia Day is women and girls and to bring attention to all our female members with a bleeding disorder, we invite you to read Ria’s frank and funny account of life as a woman with von Willebrand Disease – far more real than anything you’ll find in a medical textbook! We’re sure some of you will be nodding along in agreement at having similar experiences, and we encourage you to add them in the comments below.

It occurred to me recently how in all the information leaflets, websites, and medical textbooks describing the signs and symptoms of bleeding disorders in women, it lists “menorrhagia” (heavy menstrual bleeding), “easy bruising” and “frequent mucosal/ nosebleeds”, but never once have I read a real, true account of what this actually means.

So here is one, straight from the horse’s mouth so to speak.

First up: periods. Read it and weep/grab a bucket if you’re male always remember this when addressing your girlfriend/mother/sister/supermarket lady. They have to deal with this on some level on a regular basis and despite the invention of ice cream, Netflix, and painkillers, it still sucks.

A day in the life of a von Willebrand Disease (VWD) woman at this wonderful time, in my experience, can be likened to the prom scene in Carrie (and can bring around a similar level of disdain for the education system in teenage years). In reality, it’s setting your phone alarm every hour during the night to ensure you haven’t bled through and not being able to fall back to sleep due to the nauseating pain in your abdomen. It’s hoping to not have to explain your constant trips to the bathroom during lectures/work/social gatherings. It’s missing school days because of the times you bled out during the classroom and despite having a wonderful best friend who lent you her coat to cover up with, everybody noticing. People’s reception to these issues vary, some being heart-warmingly gracious, kind and dignified; others not so much (a couple of cruel teaching staff spring to mind).

Next: easy bruising. The kind that may lead to social services involvement, much to my poor mother’s despair, because as a child I had the coordination of an inebriated jellyfish (still do) and felt the need to be a part of any contact sport I knew I should not be. This lead to a regular substantial amount of bruising that passers-by could only assume were caused purposefully and felt the need to help. Worse, it can lead people to assume your romantic relationship is one which involves domestic abuse.

Frequent mucosal/nosebleeds: Wahey; one of my favourites. The classic nosebleed. The waking up with blood all over your face and wondering what the hell happened to your lipstick. The “one cocktail down” nosebleed; when you’re one drink in, beautiful shoes on, an adorable man in your line of vision and it just has to happen at that point (an acknowledgement to a dear friends’ tissue issues). Another untimely example of vWD creeping up to say hello are the times where you just want to enjoy an apple (yes this is partially a lie, it’s more likely to be some form of sweet) and life won’t even grant you this. One minor slip and you’re in for a gum/tongue/lip bleed which is likely to go on for a number of hours during which if you do attempt to smile you look like a member of the cast of The Vampire Diaries (unfortunately I am referring to the vampire bit, post devouring human blood, not the ridiculously attractive nature of the cast).

Throughout these trials of varying degrees, I’ve come to value the power of humour and the realisation that we are all in fact human. Yes, a predisposition to abnormal bleeding and bruising may be a drag, but personally in some ways this allows me to view life from a greater perspective. As I grow older I value the days in which I feel well to a greater extent, and in some ways this in itself is a gift.

This was just a brief insight into “a day in the life of a vWD woman”; the good, the bad and the downright embarrassing. I’m sure between us all, there are many more amusing anecdotes, insights, and lessons to be shared.



The full version of Ria’s story will feature in the Summer edition of HQ magazine.

Meanwhile, if you’re a woman or girl with a bleeding disorder, what do you say when you encounter someone who doesn’t understand? And what are your tips for managing your bleeding disorder? We’d love to hear from you so add your voice in the comments below.

James Hunt



  1. Nikita Jones 2 years ago 17th April 2017

    Love to read Women’s stories on bleeding disorders… I was diagnosed 2 years ago when fell pregnant at 24… I have Haemophilia C, factor 11 deficiency. It was very daunting at first as d I’d not even know could have Haemophilia. So everything was explained about pregnancy and birth, surgery but it was the small everyday things that got me… What was normal what was from Haemophilia that I didn’t know I had! Bleeding gums not from gum disease, heavy periods, waking up bruised all over after nightout! Medications I’m no longer aloud to take, when I have a fall when is to much bruising, when to take medication, mostly the shocking fact that nearly everyone dosnt know that women can have Haemophilia even professionals in health care!!! I do to love to share info with people who don’t know to spread awareness and hope more people will know in the future when my daughter is old enough to be away from me as she may well have it too. Thank you for the work you do in raising this awareness

    • Anila Babla 2 years ago 20th April 2017

      Hi Nikita – thank you for your enlightening comment, we were keen to show that bleeding disorders affect women too, glad it resonated with you! If you’d like to share your story do drop us a line

  2. Graham Knight 1 year ago 2nd December 2017

    Thanks Ri

    I only produced sons but they in turn have had daughters. I WILL forward the link to your story onto them. I’m not convinced they see what my granddaughters will potentially have to cope with in their own way as they get older.

    I work on the principal of ‘you can’t get out of it, so you might as well get on with it’. But it doesn’t mean it doesn’t suck sometimes.

    I’m obviously not a female, but just a quick little story. I met a lady the other day who tried to have a go at me for having a nose bleed in public – shocking! I offered to swap my conditions for hers. (I contacted Hep C via contaminated bloods back in the 70’s, which has lead to a multiple of other conditions – I’m just one of many in the same boat). She retorted “conditions, I haven’t got any conditions”. My reply was simple – “well there you go” “so do you still want to have a go about my bleeding nose?” : ))

    I think she got the message, but it was difficult to tell hiding behind a wodge on tissues.


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