Anemia in females


By Ifeyinwa Ugo-Amadi






As humans grow, many biological as well as physical changes occur in the body. These changes make a child’s body mature into an adult body capable of sexual reproduction and fertilization. One of these changes in a female is the periodic discharge of blood and mucosal tissue from the inner lining of the uterus through the vagina. This is called menstruation.

Menstruation involves the release of a nutrient-rich fluid that lined the woman’s uterus in anticipation of pregnancy. When pregnancy does not occur, this fluid that would have nourished the foetus is let out. Menstrual fluid is made up of blood, cervical mucus, vaginal secretions and endometrial tissues. The normal duration for menstrual flow is 2-7 days; usually it lasts for 3-5 days. Averagely, 35ml of menstrual fluid is released, though 10-80ml is termed normal.

When a person’s blood lacks enough healthy red blood cells and haemoglobin, anemia is said to occur. It could be caused by blood loss, decreased red blood cell production and the destruction of red blood cells. Continual loss of blood through normal routes like menstruation and childbirth can expose a woman to anemia. Anemia is twice as prevalent in females as in males; the difference in this prevalence is greater during childbearing years due to childbearing and menstraution1. While a man needs 1mg of iron to maintain equilibrium, a premenopausal woman would require an average of over 2mg daily.

Metabolic demands of pregnancy and breastfeeding also depletes a woman’s iron stores: this is due to the need of the body to ensure the baby has sufficient blood supply and receives necessary oxygen and nutrients. Iron deficiency anemia accounts for 75-95% of the cases of anemia in pregnant women. A woman who is pregnant often has insufficient iron stores to meet the demands of pregnancy; she needs to supplement her diet with about 60mg of iron daily.  Pregnancy depletes approximately 500mg of iron from a woman’s body store.

Symptoms of moderate to severe iron-deficiency anemia include: general fatigue, weakness, brittle nails, dizziness, headaches, shortness of breath etc. Iron-deficiency anemia is the most common type of anemia and can be treated with diets and iron supplements. Women eat less food compared to men; therefore, they ought to be more than twice efficient as men in the absorption of iron to avoid iron deficiency. This absorption can be improved by increasing the intake of iron-rich foods and vitamin C. Iron supplements can also be easily absorbed.

 

References


2http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/261586-overview



 

 
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