ACOG advises bleeding disorder screening for teens with heavy menstruation



Adolescent girls with heavy menstrual bleeding should be assessed for bleeding disorders, according to a Committee Opinion issued by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

A bleeding disorder is secondary only to anovulation as a cause of heavy menstrual bleeding in adolescents.

Bleeding disorders affect 1%-2% of the general population, but are “found in approximately 20% of adolescent girls who present for evaluation of heavy menstrual bleeding and in 33% of adolescent girls hospitalized for heavy menstrual bleeding,” wrote Oluyemisi Adeyemi-Fowode, MD, and Judith Simms-Cendan, MD, and members of the ACOG Committee on Adolescent Health Care in the opinion, published in Obstetrics & Gynecology.

The committee advised that physical examination of teens with acute heavy menstrual bleeding should include assessment of hemodynamic stability with orthostatic blood pressure and pulse measurements. A speculum exam is not usually needed in teen girls with heavy menstrual bleeding. Evaluation should include screening for anemia attributable to blood loss with serum ferritin, endocrine disorders, and bleeding disorders. In suspected cases of bleeding disorders, laboratory evaluation and medical management should be done in consultation with a hematologist.

Those who are actively bleeding or hemodynamically unstable should be hospitalized for medical management, they said.

Ultrasonography is not necessary for an initial work-up of teens with heavy menstrual bleeding, but could be useful in patients who fail to respond to medical management.

Adolescent girls without contraindications to estrogen can be treated with hormone therapy in various forms including intravenous conjugated estrogen every 4-6 hours or oral 30-50 mg ethinyl estradiol every 6-8 hours until cessation of bleeding. Antifibrinolytics also can be used to stop bleeding.

Maintenance therapy after correction of acute heavy bleeding can include a combination of treatments such as hormonal contraceptives, oral and injectable progestins, and levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine devices, the committee wrote. They also recommended oral iron replacement therapy for all women of reproductive age with anemia caused by menstrual bleeding.

If a patient fails to respond to medical therapy, nonmedical options or surgery may be considered, according to the committee. In addition, all teen girls with bleeding disorders should be advised about safe medication use, including the use of aspirin or NSAIDs only on the recommendation of a hematologist.

Patients and their families need education on menstrual issues including possible options for surgery in the future if heavy menstruation does not resolve. If a patient has a known bleeding disorder and is considering surgery, preoperative evaluation should include a consultation with a hematologist and an anesthesiologist, the committee noted.

Melissa Kottke, MD, MPH, said in an interview, “Every ob.gyn. will see a young patient with ‘heavy menstrual bleeding.’ And it becomes part of the art and challenge to work with the patient and family to collectively explore if this is, indeed, ‘heavy’ and of concern … or is it is a ‘normal’ menstrual period and simply reflects a newer life experience that would benefit from some education? And the stakes are high. Young people who have heavy menstrual cycles are much more likely to have an underlying bleeding disorder than the general population (20% vs. 1%-2%), and 75%-80% of adolescents with bleeding disorders report heavy menses as the most common clinical manifestation of their disorder.

“Fortunately, Committee Opinion 785, ‘Screening and Management of Bleeding Disorders in Adolescents with Heavy Menstrual Bleeding’ from the ACOG Committee on Adolescent Health Care is detailed and pragmatic. It outlines how to translate everyday conversations with young people about their menses into a quantifiable estimate of bleeding, including a very teen-friendly Pictorial Blood Loss Assessment Chart. It also gives ob.gyns. ever-important guidance about what to do next for evaluation and diagnosis. This committee opinion nicely outlines how to help manage heavy bleeding in an adolescent with a detailed algorithm. And very importantly, it gives clear management guidance and encourages ob.gyns. to avoid frequently unnecessary (speculum exams and ultrasounds) and excessive (early transfusion or surgical interventions) approaches to management for the young patient. I think it will be a great resource for any provider who is taking care of heavy menstrual bleeding for a young person,” said Dr. Kottke, who is director of the Jane Fonda Center for Adolescent Reproductive Health and associate professor of gynecology and obstetrics, both at Emory University, Atlanta. Dr. Kottke is not a member of the ACOG Committee on Adolescent Health and was asked to comment on the opinion.*

The complete opinion, ACOG Committee Opinion number 785, includes recommended laboratory tests, an eight-question screening tool, and a management algorithm.

The committee members had no financial conflicts to disclose. Dr. Kottke said she had no relevant financial disclosures.

SOURCE: Adeyemi-Fowode O and Simms-Cendan J. Obstet Gynecol. 2019 Sep. 134:e71-83.

*This article was updated on 9/9/2019.

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