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Dear plant,

I developed anemia and I am on iron supplements due to monthly blood loss. It was terrible for years. I am 47 now. I always went for my annual physicals AND gynecological exams like a good little patient. Several doctors that I went to over the years knew about my problem and never sought or suggested any treatment for me. It wasn't until this past February when my numbers finally hit some magic low number and when I had an episode of tachycardia in a parking garage and called 911 that anyone suggested iron supplements. Last year, one of my doctors started the process of figuring out what might be causing it, but tests take a long time to schedule, and you have to do them in consecutive order and while I was going through the tests, I was feeling worse and worse.

Even though I complained about the heavy periods, I guess its' to my PCP's credit that she didn't just accept that as the ONLY possible reason. It was a prime suspect, but she also ordered a bunch of GI tests which were no fun and things checked out fine. My gynecologist did an ultrasound, endometrial biopsy and a hysteroscopy. None of it fun. In the end, after all that, it was deemed that my anemia was caused by heavy monthly bleeding. Duh.

So as to the cause, there could be an abnormality like fibroids, cysts or polyps and you should have the tests that I had to rule them out. More than likely, you also have an estrogen dominance problem which many, many peri-menopausal women have. But one thing is certain, you must get to the bottom of what is causing the anemia and fix that, or iron supplementation will do little if anything to help you. Hard exercise is absolutely not what you want to be doing with anemia. Gently exercise yes (walking outside in fresh air is perfect), but your cells are not getting enough oxygen as it is and you are placing demands on your overtaxed blood that it can't deliver.

This is where I am now. I am on a low-dose BCP that is made for women in my age bracket. I can hear the groans and complaints already, but honestly, it stopped the hemorrhaging and the iron started doing it's thing and a mere 5 months later, I am feeling fantastic and my numbers are much better. And sure, I don't want to be on the pill forever. I am giving my anemia a full year to resolve and next February I will talk to my doctor about a procedure (probably what FLFLOWERGIRL had) to end the periods. And actually, all those tests I had were important to rule out any condition that might be worsened by taking hormones, so after all that I feel pretty safe taking it.

One last thing. Look into other types of iron supplements. Don't continue to take something that upsets your stomach or constipates. There are many options. It took me two or three attempts, but I found a great one that does very little to my tummy. There is a large national healthy foods type of grocery store chain (board rules don't allow us to mention) that has a supplements department and they have a money back guarantee on their supplements. If something doesn't agree with you, they will give you your money back. So start there. It's a very large well known store.

So good luck and keep us apprised of your progress.

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