World Blood Donor Day 2020: Donating while menstruating and 11 other questions you may have about giving blood – Firstpost

World Blood Donor Day is observed every year on 14th June to raise more awareness about the act of donating blood and celebrate the ones who save countless lives by doing it. There are many among us who want to donate blood but are held back by misinformation and doubts about the procedure of it. Today, let’s answer some of these questions, beginning with:

Representational image. Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay.

Is it safe to donate blood while one is menstruating? 

It’s understandable where the idea comes from: your body is losing blood during menstruation already and you worry for your own health if you volunteer to give even more. But regular menstruation does not affect your ability to donate. You can safely donate blood during your period if it is required and your period will not be affected by the donation. It may be better to donate the week after periods, but it is still manageable if you are not bleeding heavily, your haemoglobin is more than 11 g/dl and you are not in any discomfort or pain. If you are bleeding heavily, then another form of blood loss like blood donation can potentially make you feel unwell by reducing your haemoglobin and iron levels in the body.

Blood donation is voluntary, a noble deed and a great service which we can do for our fellow human beings. One donation of blood can save up to five lives. Blood transfusion helps patients in recovery and surgery, those who have platelet requirement, who have Hemophilia and ones undergoing organ transplantation or chemotherapy.

Here are some general guidelines for people who want to donate blood:

  • Minimum haemoglobin needs to be 11 g/dl
  • Minimum weight should be 110 lbs
  • Age should be between 18 years to 65 years
  • One should not be fasting before donating
  • One should drink plenty of fluids before donating blood
  • They should remember to be on iron-rich foods, always especially the week before donation
  • Their temperature should be normal
  • They need to provide their medical history
  • They need to go through a risk assessment for transfusion-transmissible infection

Other questions you may have about blood donation: 

1. Will my health suffer if I donate blood?

No, if you fulfil the above criteria, you will feel fine after blood donation.

2. Is donating blood more than twice a year harmful?

No, you can safely donate a blood 4-7 times a year.

3. Can I donate blood if I am on antibiotics?

It is better to wait for at least 48 hours after the last dose of antibiotics to donate.

4. Will I have to be on bed rest after donating blood?

No, you don’t require bed rest but you should have fluids and refreshments after you donate and leave the band-aid on for 6 hours. Do not skip any meals, no matter how busy your day is.

5. Is the unit of blood donated used immediately?

No, red blood cells can be stored safely for 42 days. Platelets must be used within five days. Fresh frozen plasma is given to patients experiencing clotting problems. Cryoprecipitate is a plasma concentrate rich in the specific clotting proteins that haemophiliacs lack.

6. Will I get an infection after blood donation?

Blood donation, in a safe environment, does not lead to any infections.

7. Will anybody know that I have donated blood?

No, it is the national policy to protect the health and safety of blood donors and ensuring confidentiality is a part of that.

8. If I sign up for blood donation is it compulsory to keep donating again and again?

Blood donors have the right to withdraw at any stage of the donation process.

9. Can I donate blood if I have irregular or prolonged cycles?

You can donate blood if you have irregular cycles but make sure that you are not pregnant before you give blood.

10. During blood donation, is a huge amount of blood drained and does one require weeks of rest?

No, during blood donation only 400-450 ml of blood is drawn, and it does not affect a healthy individual at all.

11. Can some blood types not donate blood, especially negative Rh?

All blood types can donate blood and they can do it whenever required.

This article is written by Dr Vimal Grover, Director, Obstetrics & Gynecology, Fortis La Femme, New Delhi. 

For more information, read our article on Blood transfusion during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Health articles in Firstpost are written by, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.

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