Symptoms of VWD

The symptoms of VWD can be different for each person. Even members of the same family may have different symptoms. Most people with VWD have few or no symptoms.

Common symptoms:

  • Nose bleeds often or that are difficult to stop
  • Bruising easily
  • Women may have very heavy or long 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. 
  • Less common symptoms that older people might experience are:
  • Blood in faeces (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 that is spontaneous or happens for no obvious reason
  • Bleeding into joints and muscles which can cause swelling and pain. If this happens repeatedly in the same joint it can cause permanent damage to that joint. 

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

Girls and women are more likely to show symptoms of VWD than boys or men. Without treatment, girls or women with VWD often bleed more or for longer than normal with their menstrual 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: 21/06/2012