Why Fibroids May Lead to Iron Deficiency Anemia
Along with pregnancy, childbirth, and menstrual bleeding, fibroids are one of the most common reasons that women develop iron deficiency anemia. Fibroids can be symptomatic or asymptomatic, but their link to the depletion of iron stores in the body is a cause for serious concern.
What Are Fibroids?
Fibroids are abnormal growths and benign tumors that form on or in a woman’s uterus. Women may develop several fibroid tumors at once. The most common fibroids are called intramural fibroids, and these typically form in the uterus’ lining.
Submucosal fibroids form in the uterus’ inner lining and are closely linked to heavy menstrual bleeding. And subserosal fibroids are distinguished by their location on the outside of the uterus.
How Common Are Fibroids?
According to U.S. statistics between 20 percent and 80 percent of women under the age of 50 will develop fibroids in their lifetimes. Because they require a large amount of blood to sustain themselves in the body, fibroids can lead to chronic blood loss and interfere with childbirth. Unfortunately, they often grow to the size of a baseball or grapefruit before being detected.
Which Women Are at Greatest Risk?
Although physicians aren’t exactly sure what causes fibroids to develop, there are certain factors that put some women more at risk than others.
Fibroids are most common among pre-menopausal women between the ages of 45 and 50 the because estrogen levels that develop over time can lead to fibroid development. Since pregnancy boosts the levels of estrogen and progesterone in the body, pregnant women are also likely to develop fibroids. Studies have shown that African American women, women who are obese, and women with a family history of fibroids are also at a greater risk of developing this condition.
Symptoms of Fibroids
Although most fibroids are benign, they can be very painful and cause a variety of symptoms in a woman’s body.
Common symptoms include abdominal pain, heavy bleeding during menstrual periods, and blood clots. Other women experience frequent urination caused by increased pressure on the bladder with fibroids. Fibroids can also put pressure on the rectum, causing severe rectal pain. However, some fibroids are not symptomatic at all, leading to a delay in diagnosis and treatment.
The Link Between Fibroids and Iron Deficiency
Because fibroids commonly cause heavy menstrual bleeding, women who have them are at a greater risk of becoming iron deficient. Bleeding fibroids in the uterus cause iron stores in the body to become depleted, which interferes with many important bodily functions. If left untreated, iron deficiency anemia can lead to an irregular heartbeat and pregnancy complications.
Recommended treatments for fibroids include medications to help regulate hormones and surgery to remove large growths. However, some uterine fibroids require no treatment at all if they are small and not symptomatic. Women who have fibroids or are at a high risk of developing fibroids should discuss taking iron supplements like Fergon with their doctors. Even if fibroids do not cause symptoms, the symptoms of iron deficiency anemia can be severe and don’t typically go away on their own.
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