The menstrual cycle is sensitively linked to a woman's physical and emotional well-being. Delayed or missed periods often symptomize changes or issues in the body, one of which could be anemia; it's estimated that one in five menstruating women are anemic. Anemia is a common blood disorder where, due to red blood cell deficiencies, only a limited supply of oxygen can be carried to organ and muscle tissues. The body needs oxygen to function proficiently, and a lack of it creates a number of external symptoms that could be harmful to your health if undealt with. Anemia can cause irregular periods.
How Does Anemia Occur?
Anemia is symptomatic of deficiencies, infection, and other disorders in the body as opposed to being a condition in itself. Lack of iron, vitamin B12, or folic acid in the diet are the most common causes, but anemia can also be symptomatic of more serious illnesses, including:
- Malaria, septicemia, and other infections that reduce the lifespan of red blood cells
- Excessive blood loss (i.e.,from trauma or surgery)
- Bone marrow disorders, such as cancer
- Chronic diseases, including tuberculosis and rheumatoid arthritis
These conditions cause red blood cell deficiencies, including abnormally low red blood cell production, or a low concentration of hemoglobin in the blood. Hemoglobin is the protein to which oxygen molecules attach themselves to be carried to organ and muscles tissues in the body, and it is also the substance that makes blood red. As a result of these deficiencies, hypoxia (i.e., a decrease of oxygen levels in cells) takes place, resulting in anemia.
Irregular Periods and Other Symptoms
A woman's menstrual cycle generally happens over 28 days, and bleeding occurs for around five of these. A lack of red blood cells means periods may occur less frequently than this in anemic women, or stop altogether. The menstrual cycle is sensitive to numerous physical and emotional changes in the body, which means it can be difficult to identify the cause of irregular periods. For this reason, women should consider the following symptoms in relation to anemia.
Tiredness. This is the most common of all anemia symptoms: less oxygen reaching muscle tissues means an achy, fatigued body.
Dizziness and breathlessness. With decreased hemoglobin levels, the heart has to work harder to pump the quantities of blood needed to get around the body.
Impaired wound and tissue healing. Reduced hemoglobin concentration in the bloodstream prevents healing functionality.
Jaundice. When red blood cells die, hemoglobin is broken down into a compound called bilirubin, which makes the skin and eye sockets yellowish in color.
If you are concerned about anemia, it is important to consult your doctor to relieve inhibiting symptoms and treat the cause of the disorder. Anemia is diagnosed through a series of physical exams, medical history, and a blood test. In serious cases, your doctor may do a bone marrow aspiration, wherein a sample of bone marrow fluid is taken from the hip to examine.
Once the type and cause of anemia has been diagnosed, it can be treated. When iron deficiency is the cause, dietary changes and supplements are usually the solution. Treatments of anemia caused by other disease and infection are treated on a case by case basis, sometimes involving blood transfusions, bone marrow transplants, or other therapies.
If you're concerned about anemia, the importance of seeking medical advice should not be underestimated. Anemia symptoms are likely to impede upon your well-being if undealt with; tiredness, irritability, and physical weakness will affect your professional performance as well as your personal happiness. Luckily, treating anemia is usually a straightforward process. Read about natural ways to treat irregular periods.