, Volume 65, Issue 2, pp 96-102

Iron status markers, serum ferritin and hemoglobin in 1359 Danish women in relation to menstruation, hormonal contraception, parity, and postmenopausal hormone treatment

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Iron status was assessed by measuring serum (S-) ferritin and hemoglobin (Hb) in a population survey comprising 1359 nonpregnant Danish women, in age cohorts of 30,40, 50, and 60 years; 809 were premenopausal and 550 postmenopausal. Median age for menarche was 14 years, for menopause (artificial and natural) 48 years. Premenopausal women had lower S-ferritin (median 37Μg/l) than postmenopausal women (median 71Μg/l;p<0.0001). Of the premenopausal women, 17.7% had S-ferritin < 15Μg/l (i.e., depleted iron stores), and 23.1% S-ferritin of 15–30Μg/l (i.e., small iron stores). Corresponding figures in postmenopausal women were 3.3% and 10.3%. Hb values in premenopausal women were mean 137±10 (SD) g/l (8.5±0.6 mmol/l) vs. 140±10 g/l (8.7±0.6 mmol/l) in postmenopausal women (p<0.0001); 4.1% of pre- and 3.3% of postmenopausal women had values < 121 g/l (7.5 mmol/l). Iron deficiency anemia (i.e., S-ferritin < 15Μg/l and Hb < 121 g/l) was found in 2.6% of pre- and 0.36% of postmenopausal women. Premenopausal multipara had lower S-ferritin than nulli- and unipara (p<0.04). The use of oral contraceptives had a marked influence on iron stores; premenopausal women taking the pill had higher S-ferritin and a lower frequency of depleted iron reserves than nonusers (p<0.01). Postmenopausal estrogen treatment had no influence on S-ferritin or Hb.