Anaemia caused by ‘Aunt Flo’ should be treated to improve women’s health and overall quality of life.
A recent study concluded that anaemic women and women undergoing treatment for menorrhagia could further improve their health and overall quality of life by taking iron supplements.
A research team led by Dr. Pirkko Peuranpää from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Hyvinkää Hospital in Finland worked with 236 women undergoing treatment for heavy menstrual bleeding by means of hysterectomy or a levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine device such as Mirena.
Nearly 27% of these women were anaemic and only 8% of them took iron supplements. Another 60% were severely iron deficient.
One year after their treatment, haemoglobin levels had increased for both groups, although those of the anaemic group lagged behind.
“Many doctors might think that anaemia and iron deficiency will correct (naturally) once heavy menstrual bleeding is treated,” says Dr. Peuranpää. “Our study shows that the correction of anaemia and iron deficiency will actually take a considerable amount of time.”
The anaemic patients reported greater energy levels, less depression and anxiety and more positive social interactions as treatment took effect.
“The quality of life of women with heavy periods is plural, but the treatment of anaemia is important to get good results,” says Dr. Peuranpää. “Our findings suggest that clinicians should screen for anaemia in women with heavy menstrual bleeding and recommend early iron supplementation as part of the treatment process.”
It took five years for iron reserves to climb back up to normal levels.
“Our conclusion is that it is important to diagnose iron deficiency and anaemia with simple and cheap laboratory tests and start iron substitution as an integral part of treatment of heavy menstrual bleeding.”
Heavy menstrual periods are more than just a nuisance, and new research draws attention to the need for iron supplements in women affected by menorrhagia, a lesser-known term for periods that last longer than seven days during which over 80ml of blood is lost.
The study is soon to be published in the journal Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica.
Past studies have identified menorrhagia as a culprit in iron deficiency and possibly anemia.
A 2005 study by FE Hytten, M.D., Ph.D., and GA Cheyne describes how iron excretions are negligible in men because they occur during sweating and skin peeling.
Women experience greater iron loss, say Hytten and Cheyne, because it is more concentrated in the blood, meaning excessive blood loss through menstruation can deprive the body of too much iron. – AFP