Marla Ahlgrimm R.Ph.

Marla Ahlgrimm | Retired Pharmacist | Leading Expert in Women's Health

Iron Deficiency Anemia Q&A with Marla Ahlgrimm

Marla AhlgrimmWhile women are not exclusively susceptible to anemia, hormones seem to play a role in iron-deficiency anemia, says Marla Ahlgrimm. Here, the veteran women’s health entrepreneur and retired pharmacist explains what this condition is and how it’s caused.

Q: What is iron-deficiency anemia?

Marla Ahlgrimm: This is a form of anemia that is triggered when the body doesn’t get enough iron, which is essential for red blood cell function. Pregnancy is one of the main causes of iron-deficiency anemia since a developing fetus uses part of a woman’s iron stores.

Q: What are the symptoms?

Marla Ahlgrimm: Initially, there may be no indications that something is wrong. It takes time for the body to respond to iron deficiency. However, the most common symptoms include fatigue and weakness along with headaches and vertigo. These symptoms are also common during pregnancy, meaning many women don’t report them to their doctors. Later issues include irregular heartbeat, yellowing of the skin, and chest pain. Rarely, women may crave non-food items as the body desperately seeks a source of iron.

Q: Aside from pregnancy, what are some causes of iron-deficiency anemia?

Marla Ahlgrimm: Bleeding can cause iron-deficiency anemia. Usually, it is bleeding not associated with injury. For example, a women with uterine fibroids who experiences heavy menstrual periods may present with anemia. Those who regularly donate blood without allowing their body time to replenish red blood cells are also at a higher risk. Sometimes, other diseases can cause iron-deficiency anemia. Crohn’s and celiac disease can make it more difficult for the body to properly absorb iron, even when consumed in adequate amounts.

Q: How is it treated?

Marla Ahlgrimm: Often an iron supplement is given. If the anemia is caused by an underlying condition, it will be treated as well. Birth control is used to treat heavy bleeding, although surgical interventions may be necessary if hormones don’t help.


Author: Marla Ahlgrimm

Pharmacist Marla Ahlgrimm revolutionized the field of women’s health in the 1970s and continues to do so today. After introducing the term “premenstrual syndrome” to the American public in the late 1970s, Marla Ahlgrimm has continued to focus her pharmacy practice over the years to successfully address hormone concerns that affect women as they age. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Marla Ahlgrimm co-founded Madison Pharmacy Associates, and it was there she fine tuned individualized care protocols and prescription medication to optimize a woman’s hormonal health. One of the first hormone issues that Marla tackled was Premenstrual Syndrome, or PMS. At that time, there were no diagnosis or treatment options to address the severe symptoms that many women were reporting. As a result of Marla Ahlgrimm ’s intense attention to women’s health, Madison Pharmacy Associates gained a national reputation as an innovative practice. Founded in 1982, Madison Pharmacy Associates was the first pharmacy to special in women’s health in the nation. Thanks to the expertise of Marla Ahlgrimm, Madison Pharmacy Associates became known for the management of PMS. Over the years, Madison Pharmacy Associates evolved with Marla Ahlgrimm’s careful guidance, providing the national PMS Access newsletter, as well as a toll-free line where patients could obtain referrals to physicians who had the expertise to help them manage their symptoms. Marla Ahlgrimm founded Women’s Health America, Inc. in 1993 to help women by providing individualized hormonal medications to address the complex health issues of women and also to provide practical, helpful women’s health information. Over the years, Marla Ahlgrimm’s vision has grown to include Women’s Health America, Madison Pharmacy Associates, PMS Access and Cyclin Pharmaceuticals. In addition to her accomplishments with these landmark organizations, Marla Ahlgrimm is an author, having published two watershed books, The HRT Solution and Self-Help for Premenstrual Syndrome. Marla Ahlgrimm has also been published in numerous national publications, including serving as a columnist for The American Journal of Natural Medicine. Today, the primary work of Marla Ahlgrimm centers on natural hormone therapy, an important area for the large number of women who are menopausal and postmenopausal. Marla Ahlgrimm ’s work is unique because of her focus on individualized, natural hormone therapy options. According to pharmacist, Marla Ahlgrimm, many health issues facing women today are related to hormone changes. Using an individualized approach to therapy, she reports that many women feel reenergized for the first time in years. In addition to recognition in publications and journals, Marla Ahlgrimm has been recognized with a number awards over the span of her career. Some of Marla Ahlgrimm ’s most notable awards have been the YWCA’s acknowledgment of Marla Ahlgrimm as one of its Women of Distinction and recognition by her alma mater, the University of Wisconsin, as one of its Distinguished Alumni. Above all of the awards and honors, Marla Ahlgrimm finds that helping so many women is the greatest accomplishment of all. In fact, says Marla Ahlgrimm, she still works with some of her very first patients and their doctors. These women once sought the help of Marla Ahlgrimm for PMS, she says, and today she is helping them manage symptoms of menopause and the years that follow.

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