Gina Florio
April 20, 2016 2:29 pm

Having your period for five days is bad enough, but imagine having it for five years straight. That was the reality for a woman from Perth, Australia named Chloe Christos. Now 27 years old, Chloe has just come out to tell her story. She shared that she got her first period when she was 14, but didn’t stop menstruating until she was 19 years old.

In an interview with ABC News, Chloe said, “I knew it wasn’t quite right, but I was also embarrassed to talk about it. I felt very different and pretty alone.” For a long time, she was in and out of the emergency room getting blood transfusions to treat the severe anemia that comes with having your period for that long. It was a long, grueling process that affected every aspect of her life.

Finally, at the age of 19, she was diagnosed with a rare condition called Von Willebrand disease (VWD). It’s caused by a deficiency in a protein called the von Willebrand factor, and it results in excessive bleeding. Although it’s rare, it can be deadly, but once it’s treated properly people are able to go on and live normal lives.

After being diagnosed with VWD, Chloe spent the next seven years taking a synthetic drug, which helped regulate the bleeding but had severe side effects. As she traveled around the country for work as a stylist and art director, she said, “I think I have ended up in the emergency room at almost every country.”

One doctor suggested she have a hysterectomy, which would stop her from having periods altogether, but Chloe wasn’t on board. She said, “I don’t know if I ever want kids but I never wanted to get rid of what made me a woman. And I was terrified of being in my mid-20s and going through menopause.”

Chloe endured many different doctors and clinics until she finally landed in a hemophilia center in Adelaide, where she was recently put on a blood product used for hemophiliacs across Australia. It was a success, and for the first time in 13 years, she has a normal period that lasts four or five days.

She posted this on Facebook to thank everyone who has helped her along the way, as well as those who have reached out with positive words of encouragement.

Of course, the work doesn’t stop here for Chloe. “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, which makes her want to raise awareness for women all over the world.

VWD affects men and women equally, but the fact that it could affect women’s periods this severely is cause for alarm. Alain Baumann, chief executive of the World Federation of Hemophilia, agrees and told ABC news that “many women will live with these symptoms for years without being identified and diagnosed.”

Chloe finds that unacceptable, so she’s started a GoFundMe page, where she’s raising the money to attend the World Federation of Hemophilia, World Congress in Orlando in July of this year. She hopes to “advocate for women with bleeding disorders globally for equal rights to quality of care and access to treatment.” We imagine women everywhere are cheering her on. We sure are.

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