I read somewhere that folic acid supplements are beneficial for women with heavy periods. How does folic acid help heavy periods?
Answers from Mary M. Gallenberg, M.D.
Folic acid supplements won't relieve heavy periods. The problem with having heavy periods is that you can develop anemia — a condition in which you don't have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to your tissues.
Many types of anemia exist, including ones related to vitamin deficiencies. But the type that's most commonly associated with heavy periods is iron deficiency anemia. With iron deficiency anemia, heavy periods lead to blood loss over a long time, which depletes your body's iron stores.
If your doctor suspects that you have anemia as a result of heavy periods, your doctor may recommend:
- A blood test, to check your iron level and confirm that the cause of your anemia is iron deficiency.
- An iron supplement, to rebuild you body's iron stores. Your doctor may recommend also taking a daily vitamin containing folic acid, vitamin C, vitamin B-12 and other vitamins that help build red blood cells.
A number of conditions can cause heavy menstrual bleeding. Hormonal imbalance, uterine fibroids or certain types of intrauterine devices are just a few.
If you have heavy menstrual bleeding, talk with your doctor for more information and guidance.
July 27, 2013
See more Expert Answers
- Longo DL, et al. Harrison's Online. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=4. Accessed May 20, 2013.
- Zacur HA. Chronic menorrhagia or anovulatory uterine bleeding. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed May 21, 2013.
- Schrier SL. Diagnosis and treatment of vitamin B12 and folate deficiency. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed May 20, 2013.
- DeCherney AH, et al. Current Diagnosis & Treatment: Obstetrics & Gynecology. 11th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2013. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=788. Accessed May 20, 2013.
- Stewart EA (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. May 23, 2013.