Heavy Bleeding and Anemia: What’s the Connection?
Posted byAimee McNew, MNT
Abnormal uterine bleeding (AUB) is defined as is any bleeding that differs from your normal cycle — whether in amount, how often, timing (such as between your regular periods) or after menopause. It can also be associated with excessively heavy bleeding during regular periods, or any bleeding after menopause. Basically, it’s any bleeding that isn’t normally associated with a healthy menstrual cycle. Here’s some insight into what may be going on in your body if you have AUB and how anemia is linked to the condition.
What’s Normal? What’s Not?
Generally, a healthy cycle should last approximately 28 days, including a period that is shorter or longer by up to seven days. While normal variations can exist due to a number of factors, if you suspect that you might have AUB, you might also be dealing with another condition, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.1
AUB can be heavy or light, frequent or random, and can last for a day or many days. The causes of abnormal uterine bleeding are varied but can include:1
- Pregnancy / ectopic pregnancy
- Intrauterine device
- Uterine infection
- Cervical infection
- Clotting problems
- Uterine polyps
- Polycystic ovary syndrome
- Uterine, cervical or vaginal cancer
- Endometrial hyperplasia
What Is Anemia?
Regardless of what is causing abnormal uterine bleeding, it can have a common side effect: anemia. The Mayo Clinic explains that iron deficiency anemia is a condition where the blood doesn’t have a sufficient supply of red blood cells due to a lack of iron.2 Iron is the mineral required for hemoglobin, the substance in red blood cells that allows them to transport oxygen.
Signs of iron deficiency anemia include fatigue, shortness of breath, paleness, fast heartbeat, cold hands and feet, chest pain, brittle nails, unusual cravings, poor appetite, an inflamed or sore tongue, headaches, dizziness, light-headedness, and weakness.2 If you’re experiencing these symptoms, then you should discuss them with your doctor.
When heavy bleeding is consistently present either because of prolonged menses or abnormal uterine bleeding, these menstrual disturbances may cause chronic iron loss. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), iron deficiency anemia may be alleviated with an iron supplement.3 Women who experience heavy bleeding regularly should ask their doctor about what treatment may be right for them.
What Anemia May Mean For You
If you’re anemic and experience heavy bleeding, it’s important to consult your doctor to determine the root cause of your AUB and what you can do in your daily life to possibly help your condition.
While taking an iron supplement can be helpful, you can also eat iron-rich foods, such as liver, oysters, pumpkin seeds and spinach. You may want to avoid iron-blocking foods at the time that you take your iron supplement. Foods that block iron can include coffee, tea, soy products and eggs, states the Iron Disorders Institute.4 These foods may hinder the amount of iron that gets absorbed into your blood and can work against the blood-building potential of an iron supplement.
If you’re always feeling burnt out and your periods are particularly troublesome, it may be time to consult your doctor. He or she can recommend the best treatment to help you feel your best.
1American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, FAQ Abnormal Uterine Bleeding. ACOG.org. https://www.acog.org/-/media/For-Patients/faq095.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20161211T1437220114.
2Mayo Clinic Staff, Iron Deficiency Anemia. MayoClinic.org. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/iron-deficiency-anemia/home/ovc-20266507.
3Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Heavy Menstrual Bleeding. CDC.gov. http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/blooddisorders/women/menorrhagia.html.
4Iron Disorders Institute, Achieving Iron Balance with Diet. IronDisorders.org. http://www.irondisorders.org/diet/.
- Posted by Aimee McNew, MNT
- On May 4, 2017