Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

Measuring the blood clotting time of a patient.

Measuring the blood clotting time of a patient.
beginning of content

Von Willebrand disease

3-minute read

What is von Willebrand disease?

Von Willebrand disease is a bleeding disorder passed down in the genes you inherit from one's parents. It is similar to haemophilia, but more common and usually less severe.

If you have von Willebrand disease, you don’t have enough of a clotting factor called von Willebrand factor, or the factor doesn’t work properly. The result is that it takes longer than normal for your blood to clot and for bleeding to stop.

Von Willebrand disease is also called von Willebrand disorder, or VWD.

Types of von Willebrand disease

There are three types of VWD:

  • Type 1 — factor levels are low (the most common type).
  • Type 2 — factor doesn’t work properly.
  • Type 3 — factor is missing (the rarest type).

What are the symptoms of von Willebrand disease?

Many people who have VWD have no obvious symptoms and are not even aware they have it.

When symptoms of VWD show up, they may include:

If you have VWD, you might experience different symptoms at different times of your life.

How is von Willebrand diagnosed?

Von Willebrand disease might be suspected if you show symptoms such as easy bleeding or bruising, especially if someone in your family is known to have VWD. An actual diagnosis of VWD relies on special blood tests. These tests can also help determine the type of VWD you have.

Many people go through life unaware they have von Willebrand disease. Some find out only when a problem is picked up on blood testing for other conditions.

How is von Willebrand disease treated?

Treatment for VWD depends on the type of VWD and how severe it is. In mild cases, treatment might not be needed at all, unless you have surgery or dental work, or sustain an injury that causes bleeding.

Treatments for VWD can be given when needed, including:

  • medicines or injections to help the blood clot properly
  • treatments to help wounds stop bleeding
  • hormones to stimulate the production of von Willebrand factor in the blood

Some minor bleeding can be managed at home, while more serious bleeding may require expert help.

Resources and support

Support for people with bleeding disorders (including VWD) and their families is available from the Haemophilia Foundation Australia website.

Visit healthdirect's genetic disorders guide to learn more about genes, types of genetic disorders and where to go for help and more information.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: September 2020

Back To Top

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

von Willebrand disease -

Find out about Von Willebrand disease, an inherited bleeding disorder that affects up to one in 100 people.

Read more on myDr website

von Willebrand disease - Haemophilia Foundation Australia

Information about von Willebrand disorder or disease (VWD), how common it is, how it is passed on, inheritance and treatment.

Read more on Haemophilia Foundation Australia website

Von Willebrand disease information resources - Haemophilia Foundation Australia

Information resources about von Willebrand disorder (VWD). Includes information on symptoms, inheritance, diagnosis, treatment, special issues for women and girls. Also covers living well, with information on sport, travel, school, first aid.

Read more on Haemophilia Foundation Australia website

Women with bleeding disorders - Haemophilia Foundation Australia

Information on bleeding disorders in women and girls, such as haemophilia and von Willebrand disease, and the HFA The Female Factors project. It explains carrying the gene, symptoms, treatment, genetic testing and issues around having children.

Read more on Haemophilia Foundation Australia website

VWD in females - Haemophilia Foundation Australia

Information about the key issues for living with von Willebrand disease for women and girls. Symptoms in females include heavy and painful periods. This explains how VWD is diagnosed and treated; how things might change over a lifetime, through puberty, childbirth and menopause; and how to manage health care.

Read more on Haemophilia Foundation Australia website

Von Willebrand disease - Better Health Channel

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Haemophilia: what is it? -

Bleeding disorders such as Haemophilia and von Willebrand disease are rare health conditions where a person’s blood doesn’t clot properly. This article explains what causes bleeding disorders, how they are inherited, common symptoms, treatment, how many people in Australia have them and where to find more information.

Read more on myDr website

von Willebrand Factor - Pathology Tests Explained

To help determine the cause of unexplained excessive or episodic bleeding; to diagnose von Willebrand's disease (vWD), and to distinguish between different types of vWD When you have a personal or family history of heavy, prolonged and/or spontaneous bleeding; when your doctor suspects you may have a bleeding disorder There are a number of dietary factors such as caffeine and lifestyle factors such as stress or pregnancy that influence the test results

Read more on Pathology Tests Explained website

Young women - Haemophilia Foundation Australia

A comprehensive information resource for young women and teenage girls about living with a bleeding disorder or carrying the gene. Includes FAQs and personal stories. It covers haemophilia, von Willebrand disease and other rare bleeding disorders and includes explanations about heavy periods and other bleeding symptoms in females. It explains diagnosis, symptoms, treatment, working with your Haemophilia Treatment Centre and other health professionals.

Read more on Haemophilia Foundation Australia website

Prothrombin time - Pathology Tests Explained

Describes how the prothrombin time (PT) test is used, why the PT test is done, and what the results might mean.

Read more on Pathology Tests Explained website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Victorian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo

Healthdirect Australia acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to the Traditional Owners and to Elders both past and present.