Adolescents with Irregular Periods May Have PCOS

Yet one more thing to worry about with adolescent girls.  Though we've always been told otherwise, turns out irregular periods in young girls may be something to worry about.

According to newswise.com, "While irregular periods are common among teenage girls, an underlying hormonal disorder may be to blame if this problem persists."

The disorder is called polycystic ovarian syndrome (or PCOS), and it's not anything cancer-causing or life-threatening, but it can affect fertility.

PCOS is an endocrine disorder that is characterized by an excess of androgens or male hormones in the body. The imbalance of hormones interferes with the growth and release of eggs from the ovaries, which can prevent ovulation and menstruation, newswise.com notes.

Menstruation begins, on average, at age 12, and a normal menstrual cycle is usually 28 days.  Experts say that girls should have a regular menstrual cycle within approximately two years after they get their first period or by age 17 at the latest.

"PCOS can be overlooked because irregular periods are normal in teens,” newswise.com quotes Suzanne Kavic, MD, division director, Reproductive Endocrinology, Loyola University Health System (LUHS). “However, if erratic menstrual cycles persist later into the teen years, girls should see a specialist to determine if something else might be causing this issue."

While not a major disorder, PCOS can include weight gain, hair growth on the body and face, thinning of the hair on the head, acne and infertility. But later in life, women with PCOS are "at risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol and endometrial cancer. People with PCOS also tend to become resistant to insulin, which can lead to diabetes."

But the good news is, there are many ways to treat this, some with medication, others including exercise and weight loss.  Doctors can now spot PCOS at a younger age so treatment, and cure, can begin earlier.

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