Anemia: A Sign of Uterine Fibroids
Anemia is a very common condition which occurs when the body does not have enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen to its tissues. Anemia is also referred to as low hemoglobin or hematocrit and can affect men and women of all ages. There are many causes and symptoms of anemia, as well as different types of anemia, making an accurate diagnosis crucial to your overall health.
Uterine fibroids are just one of the many causes of anemia. Those with uterine fibroids experience greater blood loss during their periods, leading to an excessive loss of hemoglobin. The body is not always able to keep up with cell regeneration, resulting in deficiency and unpleasant symptoms.
Symptoms of Anemia
Anemia can cause a wide variety of symptoms, which can range from uncomfortable to extremely disruptive to everyday life. Mild anemia may not produce any symptoms, but as the condition worsens, symptoms will worsen as well. Common symptoms of anemia include:
- Weakness, feelings of faint
- Shortness of breath
- Cold hands and feet
- Trouble concentrating
- Pale skin
- Frequent headaches
- Fast or Irregular heartbeat
- Chest Pains
Causes of Anemia
Anemia can be present at birth, but in many cases, anemia is acquired at some point in a person’s life. Different types of anemia have different causes, and your doctor should be able to determine exactly what is causing your low hemoglobin levels and formulate a treatment plan tailored to you. Anemia may be related to poor production of Red Blood Cells (RBC’s), excessive loss of RBC’s, or destruction of RBC’s.
Some of the common causes of anemia include:
- Heavy periods including ones from uterine fibroids
- Gastrointestinal conditions (ulcers, hemorrhoids, gastritis, or cancer)
- Use of NSAIDs or other medications
- Lack of vitamins or minerals like Iron
- Frequent blood donation
- Pregnancy and breastfeeding
- Chronic diseases like kidney disease and thyroid problems
- Inherited disorders
Find out if you are at risk for Uterine Fibroids.
How Do Fibroids Cause Anemia?
Uterine fibroids are the most common cause of heavy menstrual bleeding. Fibroids act as big reservoirs of blood by fostering growth of enlarged blood vessels. During menses, these fibroids, especially ones near the surface of the uterine cavity (submucosal fibroids), release excessive blood into the uterine cavity which can lead to anemia and, therefore, all of the symptoms associated with anemia, previously described.
Other causes of excessive bleeding include adenomyosis or adenomyomas, which are noncancerous ingrowth of the endometrial tissue in the inner lining of the uterine cavity into the body of the uterus. Many women have both fibroids and adenomyosis, and the good news is that UFE’s can treat both at the same time.
Treatment for anemia focuses on addressing the underlying cause of the body’s lack of hemoglobin. When levels are back to normal, symptoms should resolve. The treatment path chosen by your doctor will depend on the type of anemia you have and what exactly is causing the deficiency. Treatment can range from supplements to medical procedures, like minimally invasive Uterine Fibroid Embolization.
Lifestyle Changes & Medication
For some of those with anemia, lifestyle changes may not be suitable to address the issue. For those with anemia caused by low levels of vitamins or iron in the body, dietary changes and/or vitamin supplements to increase vitamin B12 and folic acid intake may help. Your physician may recommend taking iron pills to help with red blood cell production. Other good sources of iron include various types of meat, spinach, tofu, peas, and dried fruits.
UFE Procedure: Minimally Invasive Fibroid Treatment
If uterine fibroids are causing your anemia, Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) can help to eliminate fibroids and address associated symptoms. During this minimally invasive-image guided procedure, a small incision is made in the groin, through which a thin catheter is inserted. Tiny particles are injected into an artery to block blood flow to the fibroids, causing them to shrink and die. American Fibroid Centers use UFE to treat uterine fibroids, helping reduce abnormal and heavy bleeding.
What to Expect from Uterine Fibroid Embolization
Our Fibroid Specialists
Those experiencing any type of symptom associated with uterine fibroids can trust our experts at American Fibroid Centers to help them find relief. With most of our facilities in NY and NJ accredited by the Joint Commission, patients of all ages can trust our team to determine the extent of their fibroids and create a personalized treatment plan.
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From the Experts
Get to know more about the symptoms, causes, treatment, and care of Uterine Fibroids.