Iron Supplements Could Treat Heavy Periods: Study

A recent study concluded that anemic 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 per cent of these women were anemic and only 8 per cent of them took iron supplements. Another 60 per cent were severely iron deficient.

One year after their treatment, hemoglobin levels had increased for both groups, although those of the anemic group lagged behind.

"Many doctors might think that anemia and iron deficiency will correct (naturally) once heavy menstrual bleeding is treated," says

Dr. Peuranpää. "Our study shows that the correction of anemia and iron deficiency will actually take a considerable amount of time."

The anemic 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 anemia is important to get good results," says Dr.

Peuranpää. "Our findings suggest that clinicians should screen for anemia 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 anemia 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 7 days during which over 80 milliliters 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.

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