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Early Romance and Dating

Early Romance and Dating

Getting older can feel exciting and fun, but it can also be a hard at times too. You may have some questions or concerns about fitting in with friends, loving yourself and your body, getting your crush to notice you and what to do when they like you. You may be wondering how your bleeding disorder fits in with all of these new changes. The good news is these concerns are totally normal! This section will talk about dating, body image and maturing, and answer questions that you have about this exciting but sometimes confusing time in your life.

Questions Pre-Teens & Teens with a Bleeding Disorder May Be Afraid to Ask

Will having a bleeding disorder affect dating and friendships?

This is a very normal question. Part of living with a bleeding disorder means you have to prepare for the unexpected, and sometimes a bleed can derail your plans. For example, there could be a time when you choose not to go to a dance because you have an ankle bleed. Or maybe you get an out of-nowhere nosebleed during a date. If this is something you are worried about, it’s a good idea to try to plan for it, bringing any treatment needed and having a back-up activity in mind. Your parents or even the social worker or nurse at your hemophilia treatment center (HTC) can help you find solutions and help you manage any feelings of frustration you may feel.

How do I tell my boyfriend or girlfriend that I have a bleeding disorder? Should I tell them at all?

There is no right or wrong answer here-- it’s your decision. It’s up to you to decide who you tell, when to tell, and how much to tell.

What you discuss may depend on how long you’ve known the person, how comfortable you feel with them, and how much you trust them. Many people don’t know a lot about bleeding disorders and may have a lot of misconceptions. If you do decide to talk to the person you are dating, make sure to bring some facts about bleeding disorders with you. Give them a chance to ask some questions, too. You can get facts from your parents or trusted adult, from your doctor, or nurse, or by going to this website and gathering some information!

You can share the Steps for Living Web site.

If you decide to tell someone, pick a time and a place when you can both talk openly and won’t be interrupted. It is normal to feel nervous. Before you have the conversation, prepare a few points you want this person to understand about your bleeding disorder. You will be setting the tone for the conversation, so it can be helpful to be calm and matter-of-fact.  

Example:  I don’t want you to treat me differently. This is something I have managed for all of my life. I am telling you because I want you to understand why I:

  • May have to use needles to take my medicine
  • May have a lot of swollen joints, bruises or nose bleeds
  • May have to cancel or change plans on short notice
  • May need to take precautions when I participate in certain activities
  • Insert your personal reasons here!

Encourage them to ask questions. Most people don’t know much about hemophilia, von Willebrand disease or other bleeding disorders, and they may be curious. Some of the questions might seem ridiculous to you, but you’ve been managing your disorder your whole life and this could be completely new to them. Be patient, and give them some time to digest and understand the information.

Remember, everyone has something they are dealing with that makes them feel a bit different--even that person you have a crush on, even that person you are dating, even that person you think has it all together!

Keep in mind: how a person reacts to disclosure can tell you a lot about them. People who react with anger or accusations are most likely not going to be supportive if or when issues surrounding your bleeding disorder arise.


Will people still want to date me when they find out about my bleeding disorder?

It can feel a little scary to tell someone you are dating about your bleeding disorder because you may not know how they are going to react. Remember that the people you want to be with are the ones who will accept you for who you are. Remember that a bleeding disorder is something you have lived with your whole life, but the person you told just found out. Give them time to ask questions and to clear up any misconceptions they might have. Explain to them that this is something that is manageable and doesn’t change who you are.

You are special with or without a bleeding disorder and your bleeding disorder is only one part of you. It’s also helpful to remember that everyone you meet is feeling nervous or insecure about something – maybe someone has diabetes and is self-conscious about their insulin pump, maybe someone else feels sad because their parents got divorced, maybe another person feels different because they are very shy.

Sometimes I feel insecure about my body. What should I do?

It can feel hard at times to love your body. Your bleeding disorder can cause bruises, nosebleeds, and swollen joints. However, you are unique, and no one’s body is perfect. It’s important to start the process of working to love the body you have and focus on keeping it healthy. Body image can improve when you care for your body, appreciate what it’s capable of, and accept its limits. That’s true for everyone, whether you have a bleeding disorder or not.

What are some ways to do this? Eating healthy foods and doing activities that you love can make you feel happy. It’s also important to pay attention to what we are saying to ourselves because sometimes we can be mean to ourselves. If you start hearing yourself being critical of your body, stop and replace the mean thing you said with something good about yourself. Another way to do this is to look in the mirror and instead of being critical about yourself, name three things you love about yourself. Is it too hard to name three things you like? Then start with one. Do this every day, even on the days you don’t feel like it. Those are the days this exercise will help the most!

Is it okay to masturbate?

Masturbation is completely natural for both men and women. Making sure nails are cut and lubrication is used can decrease friction and your chance of cuts or abrasions. For boys and men, bleeding in the forearm, wrist, as well as penis or testicles is possible. It isn’t unusual to have a bit of blood in your ejaculate or urine after masturbation. Urine should be clear the next time you pee. . If you have persistent pain or swelling or if you continue to have blood in your urine, talk to a trusted adult or your hemophilia treatment center (HTC).

For girls and women, some vaginal bleeding is also common. If you have continual vaginal bleeding that goes on past a couple of days or you need more than two pads a day, call your hemophilia treatment center or hematologist as soon as possible.

Can I get a bleed from kissing or hickeys?

Kissing, biting, nibbling or getting a hickey can draw blood to the skin’s surface so there is a chance it could create a bruise or begin to bleed. As a person with a bleeding disorder, you are more susceptible to hickeys and may want to be more careful about aggressive or forceful kissing or biting. If you accidentally get a bruise or a break in your skin, it can be painful and cause an infection. If you notice prolonged bleeding or bruising or swelling anywhere including around the neck call your hemophilia treatment center right away.

Talk to your partner about any concerns you might have and be safe. Ask your partner to remove lip or tongue rings. Always make sure what you are doing is consensual (meaning both people want to do it.)  Remember, you can speak with anyone you trust on you HTC team and ask them all of your questions. No need to be embarrassed because they have heard it all before!

Will having sex give me a bleed?

Becoming sexually intimate is a big decision for anyone, bleeding disorder or not. 

There are different ways to be sexually intimate. Some examples include vaginal sex, oral sex, anal sex, fingering, hand jobs, dry humping or genital rubbing, and masturbation. Remember that a bleed can happen anywhere the blood flows, and sex can involve parts of the body that have a lot of blood vessels, including the mouth, genitals, and anus.

Be mindful that sex can have non-bleeding disorder related serious consequences, like getting pregnant or getting a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Barrier contraception, such as condoms, are most effective for preventing STIs.

It is very important to take precautions to be safe if you do have a bleeding disorder. Sex is a physical activity, and like other activities, there may be some risk for bleeds in muscles, for example, the calf, hip, psoas (lower back), or joints (knees, elbows). You should treat these bleeds the same as any other and call your hemophilia treatment center (HTC). They have seen and heard it all before. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about! Check out these videos to learn more about the types of bleeds to look out for after having sex.

As a girl or young woman, how will my bleeding disorder affect my periods? How am I going to deal with it?

Getting your period for the first time (called menarche) is a normal part of maturing (called puberty). You may have noticed changes in your body, including hair under your arms and in your pubic area, and the development of breasts.  Getting your period is the next natural step of puberty. For some this can be an exciting time and for others it may not be. It’s normal to feel a little apprehensive.

It is possible that your bleeding disorder may cause your period to be heavier and/or last longer than others you know. How do you know if your period is too heavy or long? When a person starts getting their period, it can take several months or more for it to become more regular-- but a period should last less than 7 days. A period that lasts longer than seven days is a sign of heavy menstrual bleeding. If your period causes you to change your pad or tampon once an hour or more, this is also a sign of heavy menstrual bleeding. It may be confusing to know when to change your pad or tampon – maybe you’re changing it all the time or maybe you’re not changing it frequently enough.  Even if it may feel a bit uncomfortable, this is an important question to bring up with a trusted adult or doctor or nurse. They can talk to you about ways to manage your periods through different options.

For more suggestions about dealing with heavy periods, read Tips and Tricks for Coping With Heavy Periods.