Perimenopause and Iron: What You Need to Know

Perimenopause is a natural and normal phase of a woman's life that typically occurs in the years leading up to menopause. During this time, hormone levels fluctuate and women may experience a range of symptoms, including irregular periods, hot flashes, and mood changes. 

Iron is an essential mineral that plays a critical role in carrying oxygen in the blood. Women need more iron than men due to menstruation and pregnancy. During perimenopause, changes in menstrual cycles can affect iron levels. Irregular periods can lead to heavy bleeding, which may cause iron deficiency anaemia if not managed properly.

Anaemia is a condition where the body doesn't have enough red blood cells to carry oxygen to the tissues, leading to fatigue, weakness, and other symptoms. Women in perimenopause may also experience heavy bleeding due to uterine fibroids, endometriosis, or other gynaecological conditions that can affect iron levels.

In addition, perimenopause can also cause digestive issues, such as bloating, constipation, or diarrhoea. These issues can affect the absorption of nutrients, including iron, from the diet. Women who follow vegetarian or vegan diets may also be at risk of iron deficiency if they don't consume enough iron-rich foods or supplements.

If you are experiencing symptoms of iron deficiency, such as fatigue, weakness, pale skin, or shortness of breath, talk to your healthcare practitioner about getting your iron levels checked. Your practitioner may recommend iron supplements or dietary changes to address any deficiencies. It's important to address iron deficiencies promptly, as they can affect your overall health and well-being.

Women who are in perimenopause may want to consider increasing their intake of iron-rich foods, such as red meat, poultry, seafood, beans, and leafy green vegetables. Vitamin C can also help the body absorb iron from plant-based sources, so consider pairing iron-rich foods with citrus fruits or bell peppers. Iron supplements may also be recommended, but it's important to talk to your healthcare practitioner before starting any new supplements.

In conclusion, while iron is not directly related to perimenopause, changes in menstrual cycles and digestive issues can affect iron levels during this transitional phase. Women should be aware of the signs and symptoms of iron deficiency and discuss any concerns with their healthcare provider. By taking steps to maintain adequate iron levels, women can support their overall health and well-being during perimenopause and beyond.

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