Having your period every 28 days for around a week is a huge pain that plagues all women. It’s painful and terribly inconvenient, so imagine enduring a period that lasts half of a decade. Because of a bleeding disorder, Chloe Christos did just that and now she’s sharing her story to help other women that could be going through the same thing. Meet the woman who had her period for five years straight.
Chloe Christos had her period continuously for five years.
The Perth resident suffers from a bleeding disorder that prevents her blood from clotting properly, and when she first started to bleed at 14 years old, it simply did not stop.
‘Day to day my life was literally being cared for by my mother,’ Miss Christos told Daily Mail Australia.
Christos, told ABC News about her lifelong struggle with uncontrollable periods that lasted for years, and often landed her in the emergency room for iron infusions to control the severe anemia she’d developed. “I knew it wasn’t quite right, but I was also embarrassed to talk about it,” Christos told ABC. “I felt very different and pretty alone.”
‘I couldn’t do anything … I was fainting a lot, I had dangerously low blood pressure, and it wasn’t really a good idea for me to drive or go out.
‘I really love being physically active, and that is what was most frustrating for me.
‘Every single day I was in the sick bay at my school.’
It wasn’t until she was 19 that a doctor tested her blood and found she had von Willebrand disease, a lifelong bleeding disorder that prevents blood from clotting properly. Even with a diagnosis, Christos was far from a cure. One doctor presented the option of performing a hysterectomy to at least stop her uncontrollable periods, but Christos was reluctant to undergo such a procedure at a young age. “I don’t know if I ever want kids but I never wanted to get rid of what made me a woman,” she said. “And I was terrified of being in my mid-20s and going through menopause.”
As Christos told ABC, doctors struggled with figuring out how to treat a woman with a bleeding disease. “I came across a lot of people, even in the medical profession, who didn’t realize what it meant for women to suffer from a bleeding disorder,” she said. Having a period that can start and then not stop for years at a time makes treatment more complicated and can make things much more difficult for women than for men.
Miss Christos said on average, women lose between 20 and 60 millilitres of blood throughout the course of their period.
Anything over 80mL is considered a heavy bleed, and people who lose that amount can be diagnosed with a condition called menorrhagia.
But in the space of just four days, Miss Christos could lose more than 500mL, or half a litre, of blood.
People with the condition have a problem with the protein in their blood that helps control bleeding, meaning it takes longer for blood to clot and for bleeding to stop.
Miss Christos also has low levels of the blood clotting protein factor VIII, a condition commonly associated with haemophilia.
Despite her diagnosis, Miss Christos continued to suffer.
She was put on a synthetic drug that targeted the low factor levels in her blood, but even after seven years, she continued to experience ‘terrible’ side effects.
The drug would stop the bleeding for about 12 hours, but as soon as the drug wore off it would start again.
After trying several treatment options, Christos finally found one that works for her. And now, at 27, she’s just had the first normal period of her life. “That happened for the first time less than a month ago,” she said. “I truly feel so lucky that I have found something that works for me.”
Now Christos is working to raise awareness that women can and do suffer from bleeding disorders like von Willebrand disease (which affects men and women equally), despite the fact that physicians long thought only men could suffer from them. Alain Baumann, chief executive of the World Federation of Hemophilia, told ABC that “many women will live with these symptoms for years without being identified and diagnosed.”
This is where Christos comes in. Right now, she’s raising money on GoFundMe so she can go to the World Federation of Hemophilia World Congress in Orlando on July 2016. She writes on her GoFundMe page that the motivation is her disease, of course, and wanting to make sure other women with bleeding disorders like hers are taken seriously when they go to emergency rooms for treatment after having their periods for far too long.