Both men and women (and boys and girls) can have a bleeding/platelet disorder (also known as Platelet Function Disorder – PFD). They are often diagnosed earlier in women and girls as they can realise they have a problem due to heavy periods, whereas men are often not diagnosed until they have had an operation or major dental procedure which may take place later in life. PFDs are genetic (or inherited) disorders – they are passed on from our parents and are not caused by lifestyle factors such as diet or smoking. There are many other types of platelet problem which are not inherited (referred to as acquired), such as immune thrombocytopenia purpura (ITP) or platelet problems due to liver disease, but these are not part of the PFDs discussed here.
The impact on daily life differs between patients with PFDs. Some individuals will only have problems after surgery, whereas some may notice bruising and bleeding very regularly. Sometimes patients with PFDs may be advised to avoid contact sports to reduce the risk of head injury, but this only happens in the most severe cases. When patients with PFDs have an accident or need an operation or dental work they would normally be advised to consult their treating medical team for advice. Some patients with PFDs will carry a “haemorrhagic states” handheld card to alert people to the fact that they bleed more easily than normal should they have an accident. These cards include details of the disorder and named contacts who can provide advice.