Blood Donation: Tips For Female Donors

Donating blood is a safe and simple act which can make a significant difference to people who have suffered accidents, are undergoing surgery, fighting cancer, etc. People are encouraged to donate whenever they can, no matter what blood type they have. 

Aside from age and certain health conditions, gender can also be a factor if you are donating. Here are some tips for female donors who may have to take extra precautions:

How long should I wait between blood donations?

Healthy donors are eligible to donate every 56 days, according to recommendations. If you are pregnant, you should not donate blood as it could put your or your baby at risk for complications.

The exception in some cases is when your doctor asks you to provide blood if they think you might require a transfusion at the time of delivery. They will also let you know how long to wait after childbirth before you are eligible to donate again.

Should I take precautions if I am a teenager?

Depending on your state, you should be at least 16 or 17 years old to donate blood. While it is safe and encouraged for the most, a recent study highlighted how female donors in the 16-18 age group are at higher risk of iron deficiency and associated anemia.

There are rules in place to protect young donors such as the minimum weight requirements as revealed in this chart by the American Red Cross. For additional precautionary steps, you may also speak to a healthcare provider about taking iron supplements or increasing the time between donations.

Is there anything I should eat or drink?

It is a good idea to include iron-rich foods in your diet prior to donation — meat, leafy greens, seafood, and sweet potatoes to name a few. Also, do not skip any meals as regularly eating is what keeps your blood sugar levels stable.

You should be well-hydrated before donating blood so make sure you drink enough water. Alcohol, on the other hand, should be avoided before and after donation due to the risk of dehydration.

Is it safe to donate blood when I am on my period?

If you are in good health, it may be fine to donate during your menstrual cycle. If you are experiencing symptoms like cramps or tiredness, losing blood could make you feel worse so it may be better to delay the donation till after your period ends.

Ebony Dunkley of NHS Blood and Transplant advises against donating if you are having a particularly heavy period. "This is because any form of blood loss can reduce the iron levels in your body and potentially make you feel unwell for a short time," she told Cosmopolitan UK.