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Irregular Periods in Teens Should Not Be Ignored

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So you 16 and your period seems to have a mind of it’s own. It shows up when it wants with no respect for the 28 day cycle you were told about by adults. But you’re young so it does not matter, right?

Recent studies show that you might want to think again.

"There may be a misconception in adolescent medicine ...that it 'takes a couple of years after menarche to get the engine running' and hence one might not want to be concerned about irregular adolescent menstrual cycles until much later," said Charles Glueck, one of the study's authors, from the Cholesterol and Metabolism Center at the Jewish Hospital of Cincinnati. "That's clearly wrong,"

In a study release by the Heart Lung and Blood Institute last month Dr Glueck and colleagues found that teens with irregular periods were heavier, and tended to gain more weight. They also showed higher levels of testosterone and higher levels of insulin resistance.

It was unclear from the study whether the irregular periods were causing the other problems, or the issues of insulin resistance and out of balance hormone levels were disrupting the young women’s cycles. However, the co-existence of these problems may lead to early treatment options, which could help improve the health of teen and young adult women.

These symptoms grouped together are leading indicators of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) that can cause fertility problem and increased risk of uterine cancer, hypertension, and type two diabetes.

“In PCOS, the ovaries are generally bigger than average. The outer surface of the ovary has an abnormally large number of small follicles (the sac of fluid that grows around the egg under the influence of stimulating hormones from the brain). There are also characteristic changes in the appearance of the ovaries on an ultrasound scan.” This characteristic image lead to its name according to Dr David Cahill, consultant senior lecture on Obstetric and Gynecology.

While there is no absolute cure for PCOS keeping one’s weight within normal limits starting in one’s teens can help delay problems associated with the condition. Therefore early diagnosis may be helpful.

So if you are experiencing irregular periods seeing your OBGYN - even if you are a teenager – is definitely worth your while.
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