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December 30, 2019

Diagnosis and Management of Heavy Menstrual Bleeding and Bleeding Disorders in Adolescents

Author Affiliations
  • 1Keck School of Medicine of University of Southern California, Los Angeles
  • 2Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California
  • 3Children’s Center for Cancer and Blood Diseases, Department of Pediatrics, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California
JAMA Pediatr. 2020;174(2):186-194. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2019.5040

Importance  Heavy menstrual bleeding is a common cause of anemia and reduced quality of life in adolescents. There is a higher prevalence of bleeding disorders in girls with heavy menstrual bleeding than in the general population. Pediatricians should be comfortable with the initial evaluation of heavy menstrual bleeding and the indications for referral to subspecialty care.

Observations  The most common cause of heavy menstrual bleeding in adolescents is ovulatory dysfunction, followed by coagulopathies. The most common inherited bleeding disorder is von Willebrand disease, and its incidence in adolescents with heavy menstrual bleeding is high. Distinguishing the etiology of heavy menstrual bleeding will guide treatment, which can include hemostatic medications, hormonal agents, or a combination of both. Among hormonal agents, the 52-mg levonogestrel intrauterine device has been shown to be superior in its effect on heavy menstrual bleeding and is safe and effective in adolescents with bleeding disorders.

Conclusions and Relevance  Anemia, need for transfusion of blood products, and hospitalization may be avoided with prompt recognition, diagnosis, and treatment of heavy menstrual bleeding, especially when in the setting of bleeding disorders. Safe and effective treatment methods are available and can greatly improve quality of life for affected adolescents. A multidisciplinary approach to the treatment of girls with bleeding disorders and history of heavy menstrual bleeding is optimal.

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