Low Iron and Endometriosis

As we know women with endometriosis often suffer from anemia due to heavy blood loss. This article takes a closer look at the effects of low iron and anemia as you may be thinking your fatigue is purely down to your endometriosis. Anemia is a deficiency of iron in the body. Iron helps your body replenish red blood cells and a vital role is to transport oxygen to your tissues throughout your body.


Reasons for having optimal iron levels:

  • Iron carries oxygen from your tissues to your lungs, so if your iron is low it will show up as breathlessness and your heart-rate has to go up in response to less oxygen.
  • Iron also directly helps with energy production by driving the electron transport chain, or ETC -- a series of chemical reactions that help you get energy from carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
  • Iron improves your immune system, which means if your iron is low, you are more susceptible to infections and illness.
  • Iron helps raise dopamine and serotonin in your brain, and low iron can leave you feeling depressed.
  • Iron assists with promoting cortisol secretion and if your iron is low, the cortisol secretion is decreased as well as lowering glucose in your cells.
  • Iron promotes good conversion of thyroid hormones T4 to T3 (the active hormone) which is important for those with a thyroid problem.
  • If iron is low your T4 will build too high which leave you feeling rather toxic.
  • Iron balances your autonomic nervous system, so with low iron you can end up in a frequent state of fight-or-flight with accompanying adrenaline surges and nervousness due to heightened sympathetic activity.
  • Low Iron affects brain cell health, so if your iron is low, you can have brain cell death contributing to dementia and possibly Alzheimer’s.

Symptoms of iron deficiency include:

  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Pale Skin
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Headaches, dizziness, or an overall feeling of light-headedness
  • Bruising easily
  • Poor appetite
  • Breathlessness on  exertion
  • Hair loss

Supplementing for low iron

Often women with endometriosis have tried iron supplements due to confirmed very low iron (with blood tests) and have found them ineffective. Often this can be remedied by taking vitamin C at the same time as iron as vitamin C aids in absorption of iron.


A gentle and safe way to increase your iron intake is with grass-fed beef liver or Blackstrap Molasses, and you should be able to restore your iron balance within 3 to 4 weeks.


Those who have had successfully reduced their symptoms by stopping red meat may worry about becoming low in iron, but there are many other sources or iron you can obtain through diet including lentils, beans, leafy vegetables, pumpkin, sesame and hemp seeds, oats, nuts and nut butters especially almonds and cashew nuts. 


The dried herb of thyme also has good levels of iron and thyme has additional benefits for mood and brain health. Thyme is a great source of lithium and tryptophan and both can help as mood stabilizers and aid sleep. Thyme makes a great tea, especially when added to peppermint.


If you feel any of the above symptoms that describe iron deficiency, please consult with your doctor before taking any iron supplements. A full iron-panel blood test is required to assess your total iron status, which includes:

TIBC - Total iron-binding capacity (TIBC), Transferrin saturation, Ferritin and UBIC (Unsaturated iron binding capacity).


Once you have tested your iron levels you will then know how to proceed and your doctor may suggest supplementing if your iron levels are very low. If your iron is marginally low, then upping your intake of iron rich foods and supplementing with beef-liver capsules will also help.


You need to ensure your iron levels are optimal with endometriosis, because as you can see by the list of symptoms, you can feel very poorly and weak with low iron levels. So, please get your iron checked with your doctor.



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About the Author

My name is Carolyn Levett, the Founder of endo-resolved - I am an Integrative Health Coach having studied nutrition, naturopathy, aromatherapy  as well as being a published author. I used to suffer from severe endometriosis and was able to regained my health and heal from the disease with the support of nutrition and natural therapies.

My motivation is to help other women with endometriosis to heal their bodies so they may overcome this awful disease without having to rely on toxic drugs and surgeries which can cause further damage  -  with healing thoughts, Carolyn.

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