Endometriosis and low ferritin levels: endometriosis and nutrient deficiencies.
Endometriosis and low ferritin levels.
What is the connection between endometriosis and low ferritin levels and why endometriosis and nutrient deficiencies are so common amongst women suffering from this chronic condition?
The short answer to endometriosis and low ferritin levels is that one of the most common symptoms of endometriosis is heavy menstrual bleeding.
Ferritin is a blood protein that stores iron. Your menstrual blood contains high levels of iron, and if you regularly lose a lot of blood you will have a high risk of developing iron deficiency.
Endometriosis and low ferritin levels will cause you to feel tired all the time this is why many women suffer from chronic fatigue.
The ferritin test determines how much iron you have in your blood. Below you will find a normal ferritin level chart.
Normal Ferritin Level:
- Males 12 to 300 ng/mL
- Females 12 to 150 ng/mL
If you fall below the normal ferritin level, it will cause you to have an iron deficiency.
A big bummer!
Without enough iron, your body cannot produce enough levels of hemoglobin found in your red blood cells. They carry oxygen. So what happens next?
Mild anemia may not produce symptoms at all, but more serious anemia will cause you to have symptoms such as:
- shortness of breath
- feeling lightheaded
- pale skin
- fast heartbeat
Endometriosis can cause many nutrient abnormalities, but I wanted to focus on iron deficiency because it affected my wife, and I felt helpless seeing her deteriorate.
But can you have iron deficiency without anemia?
I feel like this is a clinical challenge not only for my wife but many women suffering from endometriosis.
This is a huge bummer because you may feel constantly pushed away by the doctors as you don’t fit the system’s criteria.
Doctors should always consider iron deficiency even without anemia because your persisting, unexplained, unspecific, and often severe symptoms cause you to feel shit, and long‐lasting iron deficiency may be challenging to treat.
Iron deficiency can be very severe despite a normal hemoglobin count. Symptoms may be debilitating, and if they last longer, should raise a doctor’s suspicion.
Why don’t they?
I don’t think they know.
General practitioners don’t specialize in any form of medicine. These doctors simply watch you and decide where to send you next. They aren’t experts per se, let’s face it!
If you have a skin problem, the doc will send you to a dermatologist. If you have anxiety or depression, he’ll send you to a therapist who will help you with your problem. I think I painted the picture enough…
Frequent blood loss during heavy menstruation should be taken seriously. It isn’t most of the time because of the mistaken idea of period pain and bleeding being seen as “a female thing”.
Many male doctors will shut you down due to a lack of understanding of the menstruation cycle. They usually tell you that “period should hurt” and that you are probably anxious.
If ferritin level is lower than 30 μg/L, it is the best indicator of your iron deficiency, and its hidden danger needs to be taken into consideration.
However, sometimes your ferritin concentration may be near to normal, while there is a lack of iron staining of bone marrow.
Symptoms of iron deficiency.
But what does endometriosis and low ferritin levels have to do with shortness of breath, fatigue, dizziness, feeling lightheaded, pale skin, and fast heartbeat?
To answer that, I’ll give you the most common symptoms of anemia that you should never ignore:
1. Breathing issues, dizziness, and headaches.
When you are healthy, oxygen doesn’t struggle to get to your heart, brain, and organs.
With iron deficiency, your lungs overcompensate when you breathe in order to bring in more oxygen. That causes your breathing difficulties.
Additionally, low levels of hemoglobin prevent oxygen from reaching your brain.
This causes your blood vessels to swell and your blood pressure drops. That results in headaches, sometimes vertigo, and even fainting spells.
2. Chest pains and palpitations.
When your body has a low level of oxygen, your heart works extra hard to compensate for it.
That puts a lot of pressure on your heart causing it to beat faster, irregularly, which in return makes you experience pain in your chest.
3. Cold hands and feet.
If you sufferer from iron deficiency, you may often experience cold hands and feet even during warm weather conditions because low levels of iron cause you to have poor circulation.
Less blood is delivered to the limbs, leaving them feeling cold.
4. Cramping and tingling in your limbs.
Your large muscles (like legs) require a lot of blood and oxygen to function.
When you are deprived of oxygen, it causes them to work harder, which is the cause of their fatigue, weakness, severe cramps, and restless leg syndrome.
All that may contribute to insomnia.
Anemic patients may feel a crawling or itchy sensation in the feet and legs, which can worsen at night.
5. Fatigue, often chronic.
Another, the most common symptom of iron deficiency can be tiring easily and waking up tired even after you had a good night’s sleep.
These are common and potentially serious symptoms of anemia.
The reason being is the reduced number of blood cells that cannot carry the required levels of oxygen to your organs efficiently.
This causes you to feel abnormal exhaustion, lethargy, and weakness.
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Endometriosis and low ferritin levels can also cause hypothyroidism in some cases. It means that you may feel exhausted, gain weight, and have a lower body temperature.
All that could be symptoms of an underactive thyroid, which tends to occur alongside iron deficiency.
7. Iron and Vitamin B-12 deficiency.
The very core of this post. Without enough iron or vitamin B-12 consumption, the body cannot produce enough hemoglobin.
Hemoglobin is vital to the functioning of red blood cells because it’s rich in iron, which gives blood its red color.
Hemoglobin allows oxygen to “glue” to the cells so they can carry it into your bloodstream.
When there aren’t enough iron or vitamin B-12, some parts of your body won’t receive enough oxygen.
8. Unusually pale skin.
Your skin is the largest organ in your body. A healthy complexion has a glow. This is due to the capillaries under your skin that have a pink shade.
With anemia, such as iron deficiency, those capillaries lose red blood cells, which in turn, changes your natural pink tint.
In some cases, the skin may even take on a yellowish color.
Pale skin is a very common sign of anemia.
You may be pale all over the body or in one area, such as the face, gums, or inside the lips. Also, your fingernails become all-white, which may indicate such anemia.
9. Pica syndrome.
Ever heard of that? Me neither, until I researched it. It’s quite interesting.
Pica syndrome is anemia that causes you to have an intense craving for unusual, non-nutritional items like ice or baking soda.
Sounds weird, right? Well, pica can even cause cravings for dirt, pottery shards, paper, and even chalk! Yuk!!
The explanation for pica syndrome is that the body is trying to make up for its iron deficiency.
10. Problems with focusing.
Lower levels of oxygen cause you to have low physical and mental energy levels. Naturally, this causes distraction and an inability to focus even on simple tasks.
I think we quite covered endometriosis and low ferritin levels are the reason for iron deficiency. But I wanted to discuss more the non-anemic kind, so-called, “iron depletion”…
Iron deficiency is a reduced content of total body iron.
Non-anemic deficiency is also called “latent” or “depleted” iron deficiency., therefore I will refer to the non-anemic iron deficiency as “iron depletion”.
Iron depletion can be three times as common as iron deficiency and yet not many people talk about it.
I won’t talk about the risk factors of iron depletion because the number of reasons is vast. We need to focus on endometriosis as the reason for it.
Endometriosis or not, your iron balance is regulated by the absorption of iron rather than its excretion.
Humans cannot actively excrete iron but your iron is absorbed from the small intestine.
There are two main forms of iron – haem iron (mainly found in meat) and non-haem iron (mainly from plants).
Haem iron is more easily absorbed. Unfortunately, my wife’s stomach doesn’t accept meat, grains, etc…
I decided to research non-haem iron. Non-haem iron may be in ferrous or ferric form.
Ferrous one can be absorbed directly by the intestinal cells. Ferric iron has to be converted before it can be absorbed but its absorption can be improved by adding Vitamin C to your meals.
The absorption of this kind of iron is worse when you consume meals that have calcium in them. You may find calcium in some plant foods.
You also should be wary of consuming too much caffeine, which can naturally be found in tea and coffee.
Don’t panic though coffee lovers!
You don’t have to cut coffee completely. My wife is Italian, imagine how she felt having to cut her favorite drink…
She did not get rid of caffeine completely. M went from 6, 7 coffees a day to half a shot of one coffee in the morning, one decaffeinated coffee mid-day, one normal tea, and one decaf tea.
On such a tasty note, I’d like to finish endometriosis and low ferritin levels post.
I hope you found it useful!
Hi, I’m Lucjan! The reason why I decided to create this blog was my beautiful wife, who experienced a lot of pain in life, but also the lack of information about endometriosis and fibromyalgia for men…