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Iron deficiency and the menstrual cycle: what should you do to overcome physical weakness and fatigue?

Iron is an essential nutrient for the well-being of our body, given that it contributes the formation of haemoglobin (and, consequently, the oxygen transport in the blood), supports the normal function of the immune system and normal cognitive function. Low iron levels can lead to some typical symptoms of iron deficiency, including general tiredness, asthenia, headache, pale skin and mucous membranes. One of the physiological causes of iron deficiency in women of childbearing age is the menstrual cycle with heavy menstruation.

Iron deficiency and menstruation: is there a connection?

Menstruation, from a physiological point of view, is the loss, through the vagina, of blood from the uterine cavity as a result of the shedding of the surface layer of the mucosa. The menstrual cycle lasts around twenty-eight days and runs from the first menstruation to the next. Menstrual bleeding, on the other hand, lasts 2 to 7 days (with an average duration of 5 days) and an average of 25-50 ml of blood is lost.

The menstrual cycle is not always regular. There may be a delay in menstruation or a more or less abundant blood flow than normal. The main menstrual disorders are:

  • hypermenorrhoea: blood loss exceeding 80 ml;
  • hypomenorrhea: blood loss less than 20 ml;
  • menorrhagia: excessive and prolonged blood loss compared with a normal flow;
  • metrorrhagia: abundant and protracted bleeding between two consecutive menstruations;
  • menometrorrhagia: abundant loss during menstrual bleeding that continues in the period between two consecutive menstruations;
  • amenorrhoea: indicates the absence of the menstrual cycle. 

Even in the days leading up to menstruation, there may be disorders. About a quarter of women experience moderate to severe premenstrual symptoms. The most common symptoms are: headache, migraine, abdominal pain, backache, breast and leg pain. Painful menstruation (dysmenorrhoea) affects approximately 80% of women of childbearing age and approximately one-third of them experience severe disorders, which affect their daily life.

Iron deficiency and heavy menstruation

When bleeding is abundant or prolonged, iron deficiency may occur.

Iron deficiency is a more frequent condition in women suffering from hypermenorrhoea, menorrhagia, metrorrhagia and menometrorrhagia. The most common symptoms related to iron deficiency are:

  • general tiredness and fatigue;
  • headache, migraine, irritability;
  • pale skin and mucous membranes;
  • brittle nails and brittle hair;
  • tachycardia;
  • shortness of breath and trouble breathing;
  • sleep disorders;
  • dizziness, vertigo.

When the iron deficiency is mild or with a slow onset, a situation of asymptomatic iron deficiency may also occur. In these cases, blood tests will highlight a possible deficiency. Blood tests that may indicate an iron deficiency are: 

  • serum iron, which indicates the amount of “circulating iron” bound to transferrin;
  • transferrin level, which assesses the iron carrying capacity;
  • ferritin level, which assesses the iron stored in the body.

What should you do to overcome iron deficiency due to menstruation?

A varied and balanced diet, both from a qualitative and quantitative point of view, can address the amount of iron lost through menstruation. An inadequate and, above all, a diet low in foods containing iron , on the other hand, may lead to deficiencies. If we also add to this intense and prolonged sports activity, the risk of the body quickly consuming iron reserves increases. Also, certain conditions that decrease the intestinal absorption of nutrients, such as coeliac disease, can lead to the onset of iron deficiency in predisposed people. 

When an iron deficiency occurs and the diet is not sufficient to restore normal levels of this essential nutrient, your doctor may recommend an iron-based dietary supplement.

SiderAL® Folico 30 is the food supplement of the SiderAL® range designed for women of all ages. The Sucrosomial® Iron contained in SiderAL® Folico 30mg is useful for ensuring an adequate iron intake in cases of deficiency or increased need for this nutrient. Thanks to the exclusive Sucrosomial® Technology, the iron contained in the SiderAL® product range passes the stomach environment intact and is absorbed in the intestine avoiding the discomforts commonly associated with oral iron administration (bad taste, gastrointestinal irritation).

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