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Iron Supplements can Improve Life Quality for Women with Heavy Periods

Update Date: Jun 09, 2014 09:41 AM EDT

Even though the majority of pre-menopausal women go through a monthly menstrual cycle, some women experience heavier blood flow, also known as menorrhagia, than others. In a new study, researchers set out to find a way to improve the quality of life for women with menorrhagia. The team from Finland reported that doctors should screen these women for anemia and recommend an iron supplement to improve quality of life.

Menstruation, also called period, is a natural process that occurs when the female body sheds tissue that was made in preparation for pregnancy. The tissue leaves the uterus through the vagina in the form of blood. Women who have heavy periods soak up their pads or tampons every hour, which can make everyday life difficult to carry out. Other symptoms of menorrhagia include excessive nighttime bleeding, passing large blood clots and menstruating longer than seven days.

For this study, the team headed by Dr. Pirkko Peuranpää from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Hyvinkää Hospital in Finland, examined 234 women who were being treated for menorrhagia. The women were randomly divided into two treatment groups, which were getting a hysterectomy or receiving a levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system. The team also measured the women's hemoglobin levels to determine if they were anemic and ferritin levels to assess iron deficiency. Anemia and iron deficiency can be caused by menorrhagia.

At the start of the study, 27 percent of the women were anemic. Eight percent of the anemic women took iron supplements. 60 percent of the women were severely iron deficient. One year after treatment, the researchers measured the women's hemoglobin levels once more. The team found that women from both groups had increased levels. However, the levels were still slightly lower in the anemic group in comparison to the non-anemic group.

"The quality of life of women with heavy periods is plural, but the treatment of anemia is important to get good results," concluded Dr. Peuranpää reported in the press release. "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."

The study, "Effects of Anemia and Iron Deficiency on Quality of Life in Women With Heavy Menstrual Bleeding," was published in the journal of the Nordic Federation of Societies of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica.

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