When it comes to your period, knowing what’s normal and what’s not can help you learn to spot the signs of iron-deficiency anemia. Heavy or long periods can fuel low iron levels, but how do you know?
Below, our team here at Women’s Health Services shares the top tips that your heavy menstrual bleeding is affecting your iron stores.
Understanding the connection between iron and red blood cells
Anemia is a common blood condition that happens when you have low red blood cell levels. Symptoms of anemia include:
- Cold hands and feet
- Shortness of breath
Your red blood cells carry oxygen throughout your body (this explains why you’re short of breath and tired with low red blood cells), and your body needs iron to help make those red blood cells.
There are many reasons why you might have low red blood cell counts, and inadequate iron stores is one of them. Bleeding, including heavy bleeding of menorrhagia, can deplete your body’s iron stores and contribute to anemia.
Signs your periods are fueling low iron levels
Heavy periods can cause iron-deficiency anemia. About 4% of American women have iron-deficiency anemia, and heavy periods are the leading cause of iron-deficiency anemia in women.
Let’s take a look at the top signs that your periods are fueling low iron levels:
- You have heavy periods e.g., you change your pad/tampon hourly, you leak frequently, and/or you need to double up with a sanitary napkin and a tampon
- You have long periods and bleed for more than seven days
- You struggle with chronic fatigue
- You feel weak
- You have shortness of breath
- You often feel lightheaded
- You struggle with poor concentration
Any of these symptoms can take a toll on your quality of life, but together they can make it hard to function. The good news is that both heavy periods and anemia can be treated.
Treating heavy periods
Treating heavy periods depends on what’s causing the heavy bleeding. Fibroids, hormone imbalances, endometriosis, and pelvic inflammatory disease can all contribute to heavy bleeding. Our team uses cutting-edge technology, including an advanced hysteroscopy technology called Endosee®. This device enables our team to examine the interior of your uterus and confirm the source of your heavy periods. Treatments may include removing any fibroids, balancing your hormones, or treating endometriosis.
Treating low iron levels
The first step in resolving your low iron levels is to address heavy menstrual bleeding. You can also support your body by eating iron-rich foods, including red meat, liver and other organ meat, seafood, beans, spinach, dried apricots, peas, and iron-fortified cereal.
Tip: To increase your body’s absorption of iron, drink a glass of orange juice with your meal. Vitamin C improves your body’s iron absorption.
If necessary, your Women’s Health Services provider may recommend an iron supplement.
Take action against heavy periods
Heavy periods aren’t just a nuisance. They can affect your overall health by contributing to low iron stores. If you’re concerned about heavy periods or iron-deficiency anemia related to heavy periods, contact one of our two offices in Arlington, Texas.