Iron Supplements in Cases of Heavy Menstrual Bleeding
Heavy menstrual bleeding, also referred to as menorrhagia, makes life very difficult for women and can lead to other serious conditions like iron deficiency anemia. Many women ask the question, “Can heavy periods cause low iron” and even more drastically “Can a heavy period cause anemia?”
Although many women can be treated for menstruation related iron deficiency with iron supplements, extreme cases of heavy bleeding often cannot be remedied by even the most potent medications.
Therefore, iron supplements will render themselves insufficient if the underlying cause of an iron deficiency is heavy menstruation. Below is more information regarding what can be done to address the condition and a further explanation of the connection between heavy periods and anemia.
Causes of Heavy Menstruation
Heavy menstrual bleeding is described as soaking through a tampon or pad in an hour or less during each monthly cycle. This frequency is abnormal and can be both inconvenient and dangerous to a woman’s health.
There are many different factors that can cause heavy menstruation, including a hormone imbalance, dysfunctional ovaries, and polyps, which are benign growths on the uterus lining. Uterine fibroids are a common cause of heavy periods, and some bleeding disorders are hereditary. Certain medications may cause heavier periods than normal, and menorrhagia is a common side effect of certain birth control methods like IUDs. Menorrhagia can also be a symptom of another underlying condition, like thyroid disease, but if the disease is treated, lighter periods may follow.
Treatments for Heavy Periods
Fortunately, there are steps that women can take to bring their periods back to normal flow levels. Ice packs applied to the abdomen may help, and iron and vitamin C supplements are often recommended as a starting point. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen may help reduce blood loss through menstruation and relieve menstrual cramps. Oral contraceptives may also be recommended and can reduce bleeding by up to 60 percent by thinning the endometrium and preventing ovulation.
If these treatments do not solve the issue, then more invasive options may be explored. Surgical treatment options for extreme cases include dilation and curettage, focused ultrasound ablation, myomectomy, and uterine artery embolization.
Heavy Periods and Anemia: The Connection Between Menstruation and Iron Deficiency
Teenage girls and premenopausal and menopausal women often have difficulty getting enough iron strictly from diet alone, and those with heavy bleeding during their periods often become iron deficient because a heavy period can cause low iron levels. Blood loss during menstruation, especially heavy periods, can exacerbate an existing lack of dietary iron. Endurance sports, chronic illnesses, diet, and conditions like endometriosis or fibroids can all make menstruating women even more susceptible to developing an iron deficiency.
The Role of Iron Supplementation
Iron supplements like Fergon can help women get the iron their bodies need to function properly throughout the day. A recent study from Finland, involving 236 women with heavy menstrual bleeding and who were mostly either anemic or severely iron deficient, asserted that doctors should recommend early iron supplementation as part of the treatment process when screening for anemia in women with heavy menstrual bleeding.
However, if a condition of consistently heavy menstrual bleeding is not treated, not even supplements can keep up with excessive iron loss. That’s why it’s so important to seek treatment for heavy periods as soon as they begin to interfere with daily life and cause other symptoms like low energy and weakness. If left untreated, heavy periods can even cause large blood clots, fatigue, and shortness of breath. Once the cause of the heavy periods is addressed, iron supplements may be able to help restore iron to normal levels and keep them there.
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