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Do You Need Iron After Menopause

Estrogen Side Effects And Risks

Do postmenopausal women need to worry about iron overload?

Hormone therapy is not without its risks. In fact, hormone therapy is not used as widely as it once was because research began revealing complications with long-term use, such as cancer and heart risks.

However, thanks to these studies, doctors and medical researchers have a better understanding of who will benefit most from estrogen therapy and who should try other treatments.

The risk factors and side effects associated with estrogen use include:

  • Blood clots: Estrogen increases your risk of blood clots, which can cause stroke, heart attack, and even death.
  • Cancer: Estrogen may increase your risk of certain cancers, specifically breast cancer. Talk with your doctor about your personal health history, your family history, and your risk of breast cancer.
  • Birth defects: If youre using estrogen or hormone therapy and become pregnant, your pregnancy may end prematurely. If youre able to carry a pregnancy to full term, birth defects are common for babies born to women using estrogen.
  • Dense breast tissue: Women who take estrogen may develop dense breast tissue. Dense tissue makes reading mammograms harder, so detecting breast cancer in its early stages may be difficult.

Summary: Iron For Vegans

Iron is an essential nutrient for vegans to consider. Vegan diets can provide adequate levels of iron, however absorption is an important factor to consider. Health Canada currently recommends for plant-based eaters to consume 1.8x more iron compared to people eating a mixed diet.

Eating foods high in iron with a source of vitamin C is the recommended way for vegans to meet iron intake requirements as this can significantly improve iron absorption from plant-based foods. Routine supplementation with iron for vegans is typically not needed unless you have difficulty maintaining healthy iron levels through food alone. Work with your doctor and a dietitian to find and eating pattern and/or supplement plan that works best for you.

How Your Estrogen Levels Affect You

During menopause, your estrogen levels can fluctuate wildly. Estrogen is the hormone that regulates your menstrual cycle and helps to regulate fluid and sodium retention. When levels of estrogen fluctuate, it can be the cause of a variety of menopause symptoms, like vaginal dryness, itchy skin, and irregular periods.

The simple remedy to this is to balance out your estrogen levels attain that ideal level where all your menopause woes disappear. Unfortunately, the science behind this is more complicated than the simple theory suggests.

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Herbs And Supplements During Menopause

Many over-the-counter natural products are promoted in stores and online as helpful with menopausal symptoms. These include vitamins and soy-based and herbal products . There are also endless arrays of special blends of herbs and vitamins that claim to reduce the discomforts of menopause.

These products are considered dietary supplements . They have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration to be sure that they work or even that they are safe. Some supplements have been tested in small clinical trials, but often the studies only looked at taking the substance for a short time , so it isnt clear how safe it would be if taken for a long time. Another concern has been applying the results of a study of a particular version and dose of a supplement to others that werent tested.

Most of the plain herbs that are touted for menopausal symptoms carry a low risk of harm for most women, but some can interact with other drugs and/or cause unexpected problems. You should discuss herbs or supplements with your doctor before taking them.

Well-controlled scientific studies are needed to help find out if these products work and if they are any safer than the hormone therapy drugs now in use.

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Iron Supplements For Vegans

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Routine iron supplementation for vegans is not generally recommended unless chronic low levels of iron are confirmed by blood test and/or the diet is low in iron. If you have a history of low iron levels, speak with your doctor or dietitian before making any dietary changes and before starting/ stopping any supplements.

If a vegan has suboptimal levels of iron iron supplementation or vitamin C supplementation may be required 3. Speak to your doctor or dietitian find a plan that works for you.

If a vegan is diagnosed with iron deficiency, doctors often recommend iron supplements appropriate for the individual. Sometimes people prefer to correct nutrient deficiencies through food alone but it is always recommended to listen to your doctors recommendations. Do not start or stop taking supplements without speaking to your doctor first.

Once iron levels are back within normal range, work with your doctor to find a plan that works for you to maintain these iron levels. Some doctors may believe meat or animal products are necessary to maintain iron levels, but to my knowledge, theres no research to support this. Meat may be a convenient source of easily absorbed iron, but it is not the only source, and a vegan diet with adequate intake of iron-rich foods along with vitamin C should be able to meet an individuals needs 1, 3. If you have low iron even with an adequate intake, speak with your doctor to see if theres something else that might be inhibiting iron absorption.

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Is It Necessary To Take An Iron Supplement After Menopause

  • Kelly Harrington, MS, RDN

Taking an iron supplement is usually only necessary for women who are still menstruating or who suffer from iron-deficiency anemia . Your doctor can confirm iron-deficiency anemia with a blood test. Gastric bypass surgery can also limit your bodys ability to absorb iron.

If you are no longer menstruating, there’s only a slim chance you’re low on iron. We all need small amounts of iron to make hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying protein in blood. However, a womans iron needs drop to just 8mg a day after menopause, less than half the amount required during childbearing years.

Excess Iron Can Be Harmful

If you get enough iron in your diet, and most people do, taking a supplement could actually harm your health. While excessive amounts of some other vitamin and mineral supplements are easily flushed from the body, any extra iron you get builds up in the heart, liver, pancreas, and other organs. Over time, this can lead to heart problems, liver disease, and diabetes. High iron intake is even more dangerous for people with hemochromatosis, a common genetic disorder in which the intestines absorb more iron than the body needs.

Food Sources of Iron

Symptoms Of Iron Deficiency

You could be low in iron if you have:

1. Fatigue 2. Lightheadedness 3. Dizziness 4. Cold hands or feet 5. Hair loss 6. Brittle nails 7. Headache 8. Shortness of breath 9. Pale skin 10. Restless legs syndrome

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Vaginal Symptoms And Sexual Dysfunction

Vaginal symptoms become apparent 45 years after the menopause and objective changes as well as subjective complaints are present in 2550% of all postmenopausal women . Symptoms may include vaginal dryness , dyspareunia , vaginal itching, burning and pain . Dyspareunia can adversely affect a postmenopausal womanâs sexual quality of life or intensify pre-existing sexual disorders .

Locally administered vaginal oestrogens are effective in the treatment of menopause-related vulval and vaginal symptoms and a Cochane review reported equal efficacy across all products tested creams, pessaries, tablets and vaginal rings . Local oestrogen therapy will lower vaginal pH, thicken the epithelium, increase blood flow and improve vaginal lubrication .

A 2009 review of topical oestrogen concluded that no studies show evidence of endometrial proliferation after 624 months of use, therefore it does not support the concomitant use of progestins with topical oestrogens and is endorsed by the International Menopause Society .

Vaginal oestrogen is controversial in women with a history of hormone-dependent cancer such as breast cancer, in whom vulval and vaginal symptoms are common, particularly those on endocrine therapy and although an increase in recurrence has not been reported, some oestrogen is absorbed into the systemic circulation .

Non-hormonal treatment options include lubricants and moisturisers both of which can be effective although usually only in the short term .

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What Is The Treatment For Postmenopausal Women With Iron Deficiency Anemia Who Are Unresponsive To Iron Supplementation

Uncommonly, postmenopausal women are unresponsive to iron supplementation, including parenteral iron, because they have primary defective iron reutilization due to androgen deficiency. This condition responds only to androgen replacement. Danazol is a reasonable choice for these patients, as it is less masculinizing.

How Iron Deficiency Anaemia Is Treated

Do Menopausal Women Need More Iron?

Treatment for iron deficiency anaemia involves taking iron supplements to boost the low levels of iron in your body. This is usually effective, and the condition rarely causes long-term problems.

You’ll need to be monitored every few months to check the treatment is working and your iron levels have returned to normal.

The underlying cause will need to be treated so you don’t get anaemia again. Increasing the amount of iron in your diet may also be recommended.

Good sources of iron include:

  • dark-green leafy vegetables, such as watercress and curly kale
  • iron-fortified cereals or bread

Read more about treating iron deficiency anaemia

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How To Get Started On Hrt

Speak to a GP if youâre interested in starting HRT.

You can usually begin HRT as soon as you start experiencing menopausal symptoms and will not usually need to have any tests first.

A GP can explain the different types of HRT available and help you choose one thatâs suitable for you.

Youâll usually start with a low dose, which may be increased at a later stage. It may take a few weeks to feel the effects of treatment and there may be some side effects at first.

A GP will usually recommend trying treatment for 3 months to see if it helps. If it does not, they may suggest changing your dose, or changing the type of HRT youâre taking.

Symptoms Of Iron Deficiency Anaemia

Many people with iron deficiency anaemia only have a few symptoms. The severity of the symptoms largely depends on how quickly anaemia develops.

You may notice symptoms immediately, or they may develop gradually if your anaemia is caused by a long-term problem, such as a stomach ulcer.

The most common symptoms include:

  • tiredness and lack of energy
  • shortness of breath
  • hearing sounds that come from inside the body, rather than from an outside source
  • an altered sense of taste
  • feeling itchy
  • a sore or abnormally smooth tongue
  • hair loss
  • painful open sores on the corners of your mouth
  • spoon-shaped nails

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What Are The Risks Of Taking Hormone Therapy

While hormone therapy helps many women get through menopause, the treatment is not risk-free. Known health risks include:

  • An increased risk of endometrial cancer .
  • Increased risk of blood clots and stroke.
  • Increased chance of gallbladder/gallstone problems.
  • Increased risk of dementia if hormone therapy is started after midlife. HT started during midlife is associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimers disease and dementia.
  • Increased risk of breast cancer with long-term use.

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Treatments For Iron Deficiency Anemia

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The main goals of anemia treatment are to increase red blood cell count, treat the underlying cause, prevent further complications, and relieve symptoms to improve one’s overall quality of life.

As such, depending on the underlying cause of the iron deficiency anemia during menopause, there are various treatment choices women can pursue.

For women who have an inadequate intake of iron, their first line of action would be to consume an iron-rich diet.

An iron-rich diet should be filled with a healthy balance of meat poultry leafy greens like collard or turnip greens, broccoli, or kale legumes fish and iron-enriched food products that include pastas, cereals, grains, and more.

Alongside iron-rich foods, women should also aim to consume adequate amounts of vitamin B12 from meat, dairy products, and fortified options as well as folate, found in dark green leafy vegetables, legumes, peanuts, fruits, and more. A deficiency in both can cause also lead to anemia. Also, do not forget vitamin C to increase iron absorption.

Depending on the severity of the anemia, their doctors may also recommend iron supplements in the form of elemental iron. Beware that supplementation can cause higher levels of stored iron in the body, which has been scientifically found to lead to a greater incidence of heart disease, especially in postmenopausal women.

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Symptoms Of Low Estrogen

  • Hot flashes, flushes, and night sweats are the most common symptoms of low estrogen. At times, blood rushes to your skins surface. This can give you a feeling of warmth . Your face may look flushed. Hot flashes while you are sleeping are called night sweats.

  • Mood swings are another effect of low estrogen. You may feel sad, anxious, or frustrated. Shifting hormone levels and night sweats may disrupt your sleep. This can cause fatigue, which may make mood swings worse.

  • Thinning tissues may cause discomfort. Skin may appear more wrinkled. Thinning in the urinary tract may lead to bladder infections. You may also have an urgent need to urinate. Or you may lose bladder control . Thinning of the vagina may cause dryness and painful sex.

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Referral To A Specialist

In some cases, your GP may refer you to a gastroenterologist, a specialist in treating digestive conditions. They’ll carry out a more thorough examination.

For example, you may be referred to a gastroenterologist if your GP can’t identify a cause and you have a particularly low haemoglobin level, or if your GP thinks there’s a possibility your symptoms could be caused by stomach cancer or bowel cancer, although this is unlikely.

If you’re a woman with heavy periods, you may be referred to a gynaecologist if you don’t respond to treatment with iron supplements.

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Iron Levels In The Form Of Ferritin The Bodys Iron Storage Protein Rise 40% During The 10

Beginning in the mid-forties age range, skin gradually begins to become duller, less luminous and more uneven due to the buildup of iron in our skin that accompanies the cessation of menstruation.

Our bodies naturally eliminate excess iron through menstruation and skin exfoliation , but as we enter perimenopauseand as menstruation endsour skin begins pumping more iron.

Weir: Low Iron Mimics Signs Of Hormone Imbalance

Menopause After Hysterectomy | How Are They Connected?

Shirley Weir,

Know the signs . Fatigue, exercise-intolerance, cold-intolerance, hair loss, dizziness, irritability, brain fog and restless legs.

Test iron regularly . Test ferritin levels on a regular basis, and discuss low thyroid with your doctor, since the symptoms overlap. Your thyroid requires adequate iron levels to function optimally.

Know your ferritin level . Ask the lab, your doctor or access your test results online so you can have an informed conversation with your pharmacist.

Supplement. Choose a high-quality supplement that will be optimally absorbed iron absorption requires vitamin C and one that wont cause stomach upset, nausea or constipation.

Shirley Weir is the founder of Menopause Chicks, an online facebook community that advocates for women in perimenopause, menopause & beyond! She is also the author of Mokita: How to Navigate Perimenopause with Confidence & Ease.

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Treating The Underlying Cause

Your GP will also need to ensure the underlying cause of your anaemia is treated so it doesn’t happen again.

For example, if non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are causing bleeding in your stomach, your GP may prescribe a different medicine to help minimise the risk of stomach bleeding.

Heavy periods can be treated with medication or in particularly severe cases surgery.

Lack Of Iron In Your Diet

Unless you’re pregnant, it’s rare for iron deficiency anaemia to be caused solely by a lack of iron in your diet.

However, a lack of dietary iron can increase your risk of developing anaemia if you also have any of the conditions mentioned above.

Some studies suggest vegetarians or vegans are more at risk of iron deficiency anaemia because of the lack of meat in their diet.

If you are vegetarian or vegan, it is possible to gain enough iron by eating other types of food, such as:

  • beans
  • dried fruit, such as dried apricots
  • wholegrains, such as brown rice
  • fortified breakfast cereals
  • soybean flour
  • most dark-green leafy vegetables, such as watercress and curly kale

If you’re pregnant, you may need to increase the amount of iron-rich food you consume during pregnancy to help prevent iron deficiency anaemia.

Read more about vegetarian and vegan diets

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Iron Requirements For Women Over 50

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As the years fly by, a womans iron requirements change. While women of childbearing age need plenty of iron to replace amounts lost in the blood during menstruation, menopause reduces the amount of iron women need. Iron deficiencies are rare in women after age 50.

Things You Need To Know About Skin Aging During Menopause

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Women going through menopause experience significant changes in their skin due in part to the hormonal changes going on in their bodies. However, did you know that iron overload, caused by the cessation of menstruation during and after menopause, is a primary contributor to skin aging and photoaging?

Dr. Xi Huang, one of the worlds leading researchers on the correlation between iron levels and health, and founder of i-On® Age Disrupting Skincare, explains how excess iron negatively affects skin health for women, especially during the transition into, and after, menopause.

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Menopause Symptoms And Hrt

Menopause symptoms that may be relieved by HRT include:

  • hot flushes and night sweats
  • vaginal dryness
  • hair loss or abnormal hair growth
  • dry and itchy eyes.

Other therapies, including vaginal oestrogen products, antidepressants or other medications, may be used depending on the symptoms and risk factors. Seek advice from your doctor.

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