Think a seven-day period every month is enough to deal with? Spare a thought for one young woman who had her period for five years without a break.
After Chloe Christos from Perth, Australia, first got her period at age 14, she bled continuously for five years straight, meaning she was fainting a lot, had dangerously low blood pressure and spent time in the school sick bay every single day. She developed extreme anemia, and her iron levels were dangerously low, despite undergoing weekly iron transfusions.
Eventually, Christos was diagnosed with the bleeding disorder Von Willebrand disease, which stops her blood from clotting properly. The protein in her blood doesn’t work as it should, meaning it takes longer for her blood to clot and for bleeding to stop. Hemophilia is probably the most recognized bleeding disorder, but Von Willebrand disease is actually the most common.
Even after her diagnosis, the young woman’s suffering didn’t stop. She was put on a synthetic drug that gave her awful side effects, and one doctor even suggested she have a hysterectomy. After Christos stopped taking the synthetic drug, her condition worsened, and it was only when she sought help from a hemophilia center in Adelaide that she was given a product that worked. The treatment she now takes at the beginning of each menstrual cycle — normally prescribed to men who suffer from hemophilia — gave her her first regular period last month, lasting only four to five days.
For years, people thought only men could suffer from hemophilia, World Federation of Hemophilia chief executive Alain Baumann told ABC News. It was widely believed that women could carry the gene but not present any symptoms.
Christos’ experience made her aware of how little education and awareness there is about bleeding disorders among women. “I found it particularly hard at times for even doctors to treat me equally when presenting at emergency rooms and being refused treatment altogether because I’m either a female or not taken seriously, and still do to this day,” she wrote on the GoFundMe page she has set up to raise money to attend the World Federation of Hemophilia World Congress in Orlando in July.
An excessively heavy, prolonged or irregular period is known as menorrhagia, and there are several possible causes. Some anti-inflammatory drugs, anticoagulants or hormone medications can affect menstrual bleeding. Menopause, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and anovulation (lack of ovulation) are other possible causes. If your periods consistently last for longer than one week, you should seek medical advice.