Categories: Gynaecology

Women & Anaemia

Iron-deficiency anaemia is the most common type of anaemia across the world. It is caused by the lack of red blood cells or haemoglobin. Women are especially susceptible to iron-deficiency anaemia for the simple reason that they lose blood every month during their menstrual cycle. Let’s probe further into the condition and how it affects women.

Women between the age of 12 and 49 loose blood during menstruation each month. Hence, they need more iron to replace the lost blood. Women who bleed for longer periods and very heavily are at a higher risk. Women also lose iron from uterine fibroids that bleed at a slow pace or bleeding caused by intrauterine devices used for birth control.

Pregnancy & Anaemia:

In addition to these, women develop anaemia during pregnancy. The main reason for this is that they require 50% more iron during pregnancy. That is instead of the 18 mg a day routine to 27 mg a day. Moreover, during childbirth women lose a lot of blood too. Therefore, women need to plan pregnancy, understand the symptoms of iron-deficiency anaemia, and talk to the doctor.

Remember, anaemia can be mild or severe. In case if it’s severe, leaving it untreated would lead to serious complications including preterm delivery. While iron-deficiency anaemia is the most common type of anaemia found in women, during pregnancy they may also get foliate-deficiency anaemia and anaemia that occurs as a result of vitamin B-12 deficiency. Both these result in complications such as neural tube abnormalities and low birth weight of the neonate.

Who are in the higher-risk group?

While all women are at risk of being anaemic during pregnancy, certain groups are at an increased risk. Let’s take a look at them:

  • Women who are pregnant with more than one baby
  • Women who have back-to-back pregnancies
  • Those who experience a severe form of morning sickness and vomit a lot
  • Pregnant teenagers
  • Those who didn’t take sufficient amount of foods which are rich in iron
  • Those who already have anaemia

The symptoms of anaemia during pregnancy:

Most of the symptoms of anaemia a pregnant woman experiences are similar to the ones experienced by anyone who is anaemic. They are fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, trouble concentrating, pale skin, lips and nails.

Tests to detect anaemia in pregnant women:

During the first prenatal consultation with the doctor, you will be advised to undergo a haemoglobin test as well as a hematocrit test.

To have low levels of haemoglobin or hematocrit means to have anaemia. Even if you don’t have anaemia, your doctor will ask you to do the tests at periodic intervals.

The treatment:

If you are found to be anaemic you would be required to take both iron and folic acid supplements in addition to the prenatal vitamins. If it’s a case of vitamin B-12 deficiency, your doctor will prescribe you those tablets.

In addition to these, you can also add meat, eggs, and dairy products in your diet to combat the deficiency.

Remember, prevention is always better than cure. By eating right, you can make sure that you don’t turn anaemic during pregnancy and you enjoy the most beautiful period in your life to the fullest. By including the following foods in your diet, you can win over anaemia during pregnancy:

  • Lean red meat, poultry, and fish
  • Leafy, dark green vegetables
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Beans and lentil
  • Citrus fruits
  • Strawberries
  • Kiwis
  • Tomatoes
  • Bell peppers
  • By eating right and getting checked yourself regularly, you can stay healthy and keep off anaemia.

Dr. Sapna Raina, Senior Consultant – Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Narayana Multispeciality Clinic, Electronic City – Niladri Road, Bangalore

Narayana Health

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