Desmopressin for Von Willebrand's Disease

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Desmopressin for Von Willebrand's Disease


Generic Name
desmopressin (DDAVP)

How It Works

Desmopressin increases the amount of clotting factor VIII in your blood. Desmopressin does not cause your body to make more clotting factor. This medicine helps your body release more of the clotting factor that it has already made. This clotting factor helps blood to clot.

Why It Is Used

Desmopressin is used for people with mild to moderate von Willebrand's disease. It is usually taken before dental and minor surgical procedures to help prevent severe bleeding. Desmopressin can also help control mild bleeding episodes. Some women may use desmopressin to lighten heavy menstrual periods. And some people use it before taking part in sports.

Desmopressin may not be used for:

  • A person with type 2 or type 3 von Willebrand's disease.
  • A child younger than 2 years.
  • A person with serious injuries.
  • A person diagnosed with coronary artery disease.

How Well It Works

Desmopressin usually will stop bleeding in people who have mild to moderate von Willebrand's disease (type 1). But the drug's effectiveness varies with each individual.

Side Effects

All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.

Here are some important things to think about:

  • Usually the benefits of the medicine are more important than any minor side effects.
  • Side effects may go away after you take the medicine for a while.
  • If side effects still bother you and you wonder if you should keep taking the medicine, call your doctor. He or she may be able to lower your dose or change your medicine. Do not suddenly quit taking your medicine unless your doctor tells you to.

Call 911 or other emergency services right away if you have:

  • Trouble breathing.
  • Hives.
  • Swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Side effects of desmopressin are not common but may include:

  • Stomach pain or nausea.
  • Sneezing, runny nose, or stuffy nose.
  • Cough.
  • Pain, redness, or swelling at the injection site.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

Desmopressin is available as a nasal spray or as an injection.

Taking medicine

Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.

There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.

Advice for women

If you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or trying to get pregnant, do not use any medicines unless your doctor tells you to. Some medicines can harm your baby. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements. And make sure that all your doctors know that you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant.


Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF) (What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.


By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Brian Leber, MDCM, FRCPC - Hematology
Last Revised January 28, 2011

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.