Constantly Tired During Your Period? You Might Have An Iron Deficiency

by Karen Fong
HEALTH  |  January 09, 2018
  • If you have a tendency to feel tired when you’ve got your period, or ever feel weak...
    1 / 6 If you have a tendency to feel tired when you’ve got your period, or ever feel weak...

    … it might be more than just not getting enough sleep.

    One of the most common issues Singaporean women face is iron deficiency anaemia, which is related to not getting enough iron in our diets. Among the issues that can come up from it are shortness of breath, giddiness and in more severe cases, depression. It can also lead to hair loss and decreased concentration.

    We speak to Professor Yong Tze Tein, Senior Consultant, Dept of Obstetrics & Gynaecology at Singapore General Hospital to find out what are the main issues surrounding iron deficiency and what can be done to prevent it. Scroll through the gallery to find out more.

    All Photos: 123rf.com

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  • Who is prone to suffering from iron deficiency?
    2 / 6 Who is prone to suffering from iron deficiency?

    “The primary causes of iron deficiency in Singaporean women are increased loss in blood for those who are in the sexually reproductive age group especially those that have heavy menses (due to blood loss during menstruation). When menstrual flow is normal, the usual diet is sufficient to replace this loss. It is when periods are heavy that iron deficiency occurs. Those with gastric ulcers, who suffer from chronic diseases such as kidney disease, heart failure or cancer, even patients taking too many antacids, vegetarians and vegans may also be more prone to iron deficiency.”

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  • What are some health issues that may arise from iron deficiency?
    3 / 6 What are some health issues that may arise from iron deficiency?

    “The most common problem that is recognised from iron deficiency is anaemia. As a result of anaemia, due to blood loss, patients typically complain of breathlessness, reduced effort tolerance, giddiness and fatigue. When it is more severe, some patients even have heart failure. Iron deficiency can also lead to hair loss, brittle nails and even depression.”

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  • What can women do to prevent iron deficiency?
    4 / 6 What can women do to prevent iron deficiency?

    “Consume food rich in iron like red meat, sea foods, leafy greens, chicken and tofu. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption but coffee and tea may impair it. If periods are heavy or they have gastric pain or bleeding in their stools, they should see a doctor. Pregnant women should also space out pregnancies to replenish their iron stores.”

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  • How much does having a heavy menstrual flow affect your levels of iron?
    5 / 6 How much does having a heavy menstrual flow affect your levels of iron?

    Usually when menstrual flow is normal, the usual diet is sufficient to replace this loss. Normal menstrual flow lasts about three to seven days with two to three heavy days and requires about three to four normal pads. If a woman finds that she has soaked fully five pads per menstrual cycle, it is likely that her period is too heavy. It is when periods are heavy that iron deficiency occurs. As menses occur on a regular basis the deficit increases over time and can result in iron deficiency anaemia.”

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  • Why should we worry about this?
    6 / 6 Why should we worry about this?

    “Iron deficiency is a preventable and correctable problem. Iron is needed to carry oxygen and many cell functions and improve immunity. For women looking to have children in the near future, iron deficiency can affect the health of both the mother and her baby, so it’s important to start correcting the issue as early as possible.”

    (Also Read: 13 Ways to Stay Energised And Inspired at Work)

    A version of this story first appeared in CLEO. Offering an insider perspective on everything a twenty-something woman in Singapore wants or needs to know, CLEO Magazine is now available in both print and digital formats. Visit www.CLEO.com.sg to subscribe.

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