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If you’ve been trying to get pregnant but are facing difficulties, you might be anaemic and not even know about it.
In India, almost half of the women are anaemic. This low level of iron in the blood can be one of the major reasons why you’re unable to conceive. In fact, failing to get enough iron before conception can keep you from getting pregnant.
While anaemia is very common, it is easily avoidable by taking supplements or iron-rich foods. But, when you are trying to get pregnant or you are already pregnant, your body requires more iron than what a normal woman needs.
In a study published in the International Journal of Current Research and Academic Review, the researchers found that women who do not get sufficient iron may not ovulate properly. Lower iron levels also result in poor egg health which reduces your fertility by 60%.
How can iron levels affect conception?
To understand how anaemia can affect fertility and make getting pregnant difficult for you, we reached out to Dr Shahanaz Mohammad, consultant obstetrics and gynaecologist at Apollo Telehealth services.
Dr Shahnaz clarified that when our iron stores fall into an unhealthy range, it prevents red blood cells from developing. Low red blood cells result in low haemoglobin levels. This decreases the oxygen-carrying capacity to the body’s tissues, including the ovaries and uterus. The insufficient oxygen delivery to your reproductive organs can make the eggs become poor in quality. Without a healthy egg, conception becomes near impossible.
Here’s what Dr Shahnaz suggests…
If you’re trying to conceive, taking pre-pregnancy counselling is a must. This will ensure that your doctor is aware of your health conditions and will further prescribe supplements and dietary requirements that your body needs for a healthy pregnancy.
Many people stop taking iron supplements after having some side effects like constipation, nausea or gastritis. But, Dr Shahnaz emphasises that these supplements must be taken if you are anaemic to avoid any complications later on.
Anaemia is a serious condition when it comes to pregnancy
If you have had a baby recently, there is a chance that you’re already low on haemoglobin because of the blood loss during delivery. Multiple pregnancies weaken the body which makes it difficult for you to conceive.
Even if you manage to get pregnant, the lack of oxygen-carrying capacity will affect the baby’s development. It can also prevent proper placental development, increasing the chances of miscarriage and preterm labour or birth.
Anemia also enhances postpartum haemorrhage which leads to additional blood loss. So, Dr Shahnaz says one should take anaemia very seriously when trying to get pregnant and follow what your doctor prescribes for you.
What you can do?
Dr Shahnaz told us that they generally put a patient on iron, calcium and folic supplements when iron levels are low. She also cautioned against taking calcium and iron supplements together as this reduces the absorption of iron in your blood.
She suggested that one can keep their iron levels up by including green leafy vegetables, jaggery, dry fruits in the diet and if you are non-vegetarian, then eating meat and fish can be extremely beneficial as well. Also, include foods rich in vitamin C to ensure the proper absorption of iron in the blood.
So, it is best if you talk to your doctor about your iron levels and intake if you’re trying to get pregnant.