Iron deficiency is the most common cause of anaemia. Anaemia can happen suddenly or sneak up on you over months, leaving you feeling exhausted, fatigued and weak.

Anaemia happens when there is a lack of red blood cells in the body. Blood loss is a common cause, and menstruating women are especially prone to anaemia.

In fact, anaemia caused by periods is so common that 29% of non-pregnant, menstruating women are affected worldwide. When you lose blood, you inevitably lose iron and if your nutrition doesn’t replace this monthly loss, you may end up with iron deficiency anaemia.

But what exactly is a ‘heavy’ period?

The amount of blood lost during menstruation differs from woman to woman, depending on age, hormones, oral contraceptives, diet, exercise, weight or conditions such as endometriosis or polycystic ovary syndrome.

Menstrual cycles vary – in length and intensity, says Alyssa Dweck, an assistant clinical professor of obstetrics, gynaecology and reproductive science at the US Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

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