Iron Deficiency in Women

symptoms of low iron in women

What Is Iron Deficiency?

Iron deficiency is a common form of anemia caused by the lack of iron in the blood. Iron is needed for the blood to create hemoglobin, which enables red blood cells to carry oxygen to the body’s tissues. Having an iron deficiency can leave you feeling tired and short of breath.

What Causes Iron Deficiency in Women?

Although there are different causes of iron deficiency, women are at a higher risk of developing an iron deficiency for the following reasons:

  • Iron lost through bleeding. Bleeding can cause the body to lose more blood cells and iron than it can replace. Some of the most common causes for women to lose blood include:
    • Heavy menstrual bleeding or longer than usual menstrual periods
    • Digestive system problems, such as colon polyps, ulcers, or colon cancer
    • Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous, but they can cause heavy bleeding
    • Blood donation without giving enough time to recover
  • Increased need for iron during pregnancy. During pregnancy, the body needs more iron to help support the growing baby.
  • Not enough iron in diet. Iron is absorbed when we eat animal-based foods, such as beef, chicken or fish, two to three times better than it is through eating plant-based foods.
  • Difficulty absorbing iron. If you have Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, or have had gastric bypass surgery, your body can have difficulty absorbing iron from food.

Do you have concerns?

If you’re experiencing iron-deficiency anemia, talk with your Baptist Health Provider

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What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Low Iron in Women?

The symptoms of iron deficiency are related to the lack of oxygen being delivered to the entire body and may include:

  • Being pale or having yellow, “sallow” skin
  • Fatigue or lack of energy
  • Headaches
  • Tingling feeling in the legs
  • Shortness of breath or chest pain, especially with activity
  • Unexplained generalized weakness
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Dizziness
  • Brittle nails or hair loss
  • Sore or smooth tongue
  • Pica (unusual cravings for ice, very cold drinks, or non-food items like dirt or paper)

If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms described above and think you may be experiencing iron-deficiency anemia, talk with your doctor.

Learn More About the Effects of Iron Deficiency in Women

Contact the Women’s Services team at Baptist Health to learn more about the effects of iron deficiency in women.

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