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Obesity and Weight Management

Weight and menses

05/24/2007

Question:

Does the fact of being overweight by 20 kilograms make a female run the risk of having irregular menses?

Answer:

Interestingly, both underweight and excess weight are common causes of missed or irregular periods in both young and older women. Fat cells can promote metabolic changes in the body, resulting in hormonal changes. This can lead to polycystic ovary syndrome, a problem often associated with obesity.

But before attributing irregular periods to overweight, think about other causes. The most common cause, obviously, is pregnancy. Drugs, chronic diseases (such as inflammatory bowel disease or diabetes), or problems within the pelvis, particularly the uterus or cervix, can alter the frequency or duration of periods too. The good news is that with weight management, the periods should correct if the problem is weight related.

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Response by:

Robert D Murray, MD Robert D Murray, MD
Clinical Professor of Health Behaviors & Health Promotion
Retired Professor of Human Nutrition
College of Education and Human Ecology
The Ohio State University