Uterine fibroids are fibrous -- tissue-like -- growths in the uterus that can be as small as a pea to as large as a grapefruit. While these fibroids are not cancerous, they can cause a number of unpleasant symptoms including pain in the abdomen, abdominal cramping or trouble urinating. Excess menstrual bleeding is another issue that can lead to anemia, a condition that causes iron deficiency.
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Iron is a mineral in your body that travels in your red blood cells. It is necessary because it carries hemoglobin that binds to oxygen that your tissues need to perform their functions. Women experience anemia more often than men due to blood loss during their menstrual periods or lack of iron in their diets. Uterine fibroids that cause uncontrolled bleeding can further contribute to iron deficiency.
Certain risk factors may make you more likely for experiencing uterine fibroids, resulting in an iron deficiency. Knowing if you are at risk can help you better recognize symptoms. Women in pre-menopause -- typically between the ages of 45 and 50 -- more commonly experience uterine fibroids because estrogen levels over time contribute to uterine fibroids. African-American and obese women also are associated with an elevated risk although the connection between uterine fibroids, but these risk factors is not wholly understood.
Iron-deficiency symptoms can help a physician diagnose anemia and vice-versa. Symptoms of anemia include unexplained fatigue, headaches, pale skin color, weakness and even unusual food cravings. When the body’s tissues do not get enough oxygen, your body cannot break down energy from food as efficiently, which explains the energy losses. If you suspect you may have excess bleeding during a menstrual period or your periods last in excess of seven days, these uterine fibroid symptoms can indicate you may be experiencing anemia. However, if you have smaller uterine fibroids or only mild anemia, you may never experience symptoms.
Treatments for uterine fibroids and iron deficiency can vary based on the severity of your symptoms. For example, if your uterine fibroid and iron deficiency symptoms are fairly mild, your physician may recommend increasing your dietary iron intake. Good sources of iron include egg yolks, fish, beans, peas, meats, chicken, turkey, raisins and whole-grain bread. If your symptoms are more severe, your physician may recommend iron supplements or even surgical procedures to remove the fibroids. For some women who experience uterine fibroids, bleeding can be so severe that it is difficult to perform daily tasks.