If you think that you can compare your menstrual flow with your sister’s (or friend’s) and use it as a universal indication, sadly it’s not going to take you anywhere. Every woman experiences and bleeds differently during her period. What might be heavy for you could be very well normal for the girl who sat next to you on the metro today, or your mother when she was your age.
However, if you suffer from a flood-like flow, which makes you change your tampon or pad every other hour on heavy days, you could be suffering from menorrhagia. While there could be several reasons behind that excessive flow, a heavy flow can be a reason for some serious health woes, too.
One such health issue that can result from heavy periods is iron-deficiency anemia. Chronic menorrhagia can deplete your iron stores through the loss of so much blood.
Dr Antonio Pizarro, a board certified in OB/GYn and in Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery says, “Heavy and irregular menstrual bleeding is a major cause of anemia that affects millions of American women. Anemia must always be investigated to find a cause. Menstruation may be the only cause, and if so, that would indicate a potentially worrisome level of blood loss during menstruation.”
Menstruation-Related Anemia: Understanding the Connection
While we have established the connection between heavy period and anemia, it becomes important to also understand how this can be prevented and managed. Women should speak to their doctors regarding their menstrual woes and get appropriate treatment in time before it’s too late.
Dr Pizarro raises another issue while enlightening us on the topic, “A woman who is already anemic from another cause who then also develops heavy or irregular menstrual cycle has thus developed an additional compounding risk to her health. Anemia can lead to fatigue, pallor, trouble concentrating and trouble breathing. Severe anemia can cause heart failure, loss of consciousness, heart attack and death.”
While these women do deserve treatment for the cause of their anemia, they also need an effective strategy to minimize their loss of blood and therefore iron during menstruation.
“This may include reducing menstrual bleeding with medications or surgery. Mild to moderate anemia can be managed with iron therapy, sometimes requiring iron infusions. In rare cases, severe anemia may require a blood transfusion,” adds Dr Pizzaro.
Natural Ways To Treat Your Iron Deficiency
You can replenish your iron stores naturally by eating right. Certain foods are a chock full of natural iron and can both prevent and treat iron deficiency anemia. Here are some foods which you might want to add to your plate.
- If you’re a meat eater, then opt for liver which is one of the richest sources of iron. However, if your diet preferences aren’t specifically meat products, then you can load on beans, chickpeas, spinach, kale and pumpkin seeds.
- Bell peppers are also another great source of iron which can be incorporated in your meals. Besides being a decent source of iron, bell peppers are exceptionally rich in vitamin C that increases the absorption of iron from the gut. Not only do they reduce the risk of anemia, they also help in easing symptoms such as weakness, extreme fatigue, headaches, shortness of breath and frequent infections.
- Rich in vitamin C, lemons can help increase the absorption of iron from the blood while promoting the production of red blood cell and increasing the levels of hemoglobin, thus helping you manage anemia and its symptoms.