The menstrual cycle is a sequence of natural changes in hormone production and the structure of the female reproductive system’s uterus and ovaries that allow for pregnancy. These cycles are coordinated with each other. These cycles last 30–45 years in adult women, ranging from 21 to 35 days on average, with a median of 28 days. Anemia may result from bleeding that is more extensive or persistent. In addition, anemia can have an impact on the period. According to World Health Organization (WHO) in 2019, the prevalence of anemia among women of reproductive age worldwide was 29.9%, or more than 500 million women between the ages of 15 and 49.

Through this article you can understand how irregular periods and iron deficiency anemia are inter-related with each other.

What is anemia?

Anemia is a condition where there are either too few red blood cells or too little hemoglobin in them. The capacity of the blood to carry oxygen to the body’s tissues will be reduced if you have too few or abnormal red blood cells, not enough haemoglobin, or both. Haemoglobin is required to carry oxygen.

What is Iron deficiency anemia?

Lack of iron in woman’s body is the main cause of this type of anemia. In order to produce hemoglobin, bone marrow needs iron. Woman’s body can’t make enough hemoglobin for red blood cells without enough iron.

Many pregnant women may face this type of anemia without iron supplements. It can also be brought on by blood loss from heavy monthly flow, large bowel cancer, stomach or small intestine ulcers, and regular use of various over-the-counter painkillers, particularly aspirin which irritates the stomach lining and lead to blood loss. To stop anemia from returning, it’s critical to identify the cause of iron deficiency.

What is the cause of having anemia?

  • Your risk of anemia is increased if you have a history of certain infections, blood conditions, or autoimmune diseases.
  • Anemia can result from factors such as alcoholism, hazardous chemical exposure, and pharmaceutical use. As a result it decreases red blood cell production.
  • Anemia risk increases for people over 65 year.

How can anemia lead to irregular periods?

Anemia and irregular periods are inter-related with each other as we mentioned earlier. The primary trigger for this type of anemia is an iron deficiency. This creates a vicious loop where women who have heavy periods are more likely to have an iron deficiency and those who do get an iron deficiency experience problems with their menstrual cycle.

Women’s bodies lose a significant amount of iron during menstruation, increasing the likelihood that they will develop an iron deficiency. However, it is not required that this monthly menstruation result in a shortfall. The primary cause of this shortage is iron loss, which is not effectively compensated for by the iron intake from their diets. Due to the body’s increased need for minerals during pregnancy, iron insufficiency is another regularly seen symptom.

What is the symptoms if you are anemic?

  • Get tired easily and energy loss.
  • Unusually quick heartbeat, especially when exercising
  • Headache and shortness of breath, especially after doing any activity
  • Difficulty to concentrate
  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • Pale skin
  • Leg cramps

The following signs of an iron deficiency may include:

  • Cracks around the corners and soreness in the mout
  • A craving for odd materials like paper, ice, or dirt.
  • Koilonychias, or the upward curvature of the nails

What are the symptoms of loosing to much blood during the period?

A typical menstrual bleed typically varies depending on the day of the cycle. It lasts, on average, 5 to 7 days. Days 2, 3, and/or 4 are the days with the most bleeding. And there is just about 4 to 5 tablespoons or less than 80 ml of blood overall. One of the most important indicators that you are losing too much blood during your period is changing your pad or tampon every two to three hours. Bleeding that lasts longer than seven days may also result in anemia.

Can lifestyle and environment factors cause irregular periods?

Yes, lifestyle and environmental factors can cause irregular periods. The menstrual cycle, which is measured from the first day of one period to the first day of the next, differs for each woman and may be associated with irregular periods. Other factors that may contribute to irregular periods include certain medications, lifestyle factors, and current medical conditions.

Periods can be affected by environmental and lifestyle variables as well. High amounts of stress might occasionally interfere with a woman’s menstrual cycle. Extreme weight loss and eating problems can also influence the cycles, and excessive activity may temporarily cease periods. So, it is important to have a healthy lifestyle which can lead to regular periods without iron deficiency.

What are the best treatments for anemia?

It should be determined whether a poor diet or a more serious medical condition is to blame for the anemia. The anemia and the underlying condition can then both be treated. Treatment for iron deficient anemia includes:

  • Oral supplements with iron.
  • Meals that are high in iron and foods that promote iron absorption (like foods with Vitamin C).
  • Intravenous (IV) infusion of iron is provided.
  • Red blood cell transfusions

Your doctor might need to perform surgery to stop the internal bleeding if it is the source of your anemia. Anemia in persons with paraesophageal hiatal hernias, with or without ulcers (known as Cameron’s ulcers), has been treated surgically.

Anemia diet plan

Best treatment of anemia treatment should include dietary changes and a proper diet plan. The optimal diet for anemia include meals high in iron and other vitamins necessary for the formation of hemoglobin and red blood cells. Additionally, it needs to contain meals that improve iron absorption in the body.

Heme iron and non-heme iron are the two forms of iron found in food. Seafood, poultry, and beef all contain heme iron. Plant foods and foods that have been iron-fortified contain non-heme iron. Both forms of iron can be absorbed by your body, but heme iron does so more readily. Most of the women require 150 to 200 mg of elemental iron daily.

You should add these foods to your diet to get more iron and help fight iron deficiency anemia:

Top 5 source of iron

1. Vitamin C and leafy greens

Leafy greens, especially those that are dark in color like spinach, kale, collard greens, and dandelion greens, are among the greatest sources of nonheme iron. Your stomach can better absorb iron with vitamin C. Consuming leafy greens along with vitamin C-rich foods like strawberries, red peppers, and oranges helps to improve iron absorption. Some greens, like collard greens and Swiss chard, are excellent sources of iron and vitamin C.

2. Seafood

Heme iron is present in some seafood. Good sources include shellfish including oysters, clams, scallops, crabs, and shrimp. Fish typically contain iron. The fish with the highest levels of iron are fresh or canned salmon, mackerel, pompano, mahi mahi, fresh perch, and canned or fresh tuna.

3. Seeds and Nuts

Iron-rich nuts and seeds come in a wide variety. They are delicious on their own, in salads, or sprinkled over yogurt. Pumpkin seeds, cashews, almonds, pistachios, hemp seeds, pine nuts, and sunflower seeds are some nuts and seeds that contain iron.

Iron content in nuts is similar when they are raw and roasted. A good source of iron is almonds. They’re fantastic as a component of a balanced diet, but because they’re also heavy in calcium, they might not significantly raise your iron levels.

4. Liver

Organ meats are often avoided by most of the people, but they are an excellent source of iron. Possibly the most popular organ meat is liver. Iron and folate are abundant in it. Other organ meats high in iron include beef tongue, kidney, and heart.

5. Meat and Poultry

Heme iron can be found in most of the meat and poultry. The best sources are venison, lamb, and red meat. Lower quantities are seen in chicken and poultry. Consuming nonheme iron-rich foods like leafy greens with meat or chicken and a vitamin C-rich fruit will help to improve iron absorption.

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