Mercy Gynecologist Dr. Christine O’Connor Discusses Treatment for Irregular Menstrual Periods
Irregular menstrual periods can leave women wondering if something is wrong, but it's often an issue that can be addressed, typically with medication.
"There are chemical signals from your brain to your body to try to signal when it's time to ovulate and when it's time to menstruate, so if you have medications that interfere, that can change your cycle," said Mercy gynecologist Dr. Christine O'Connor, Director of Well-Woman and Adolescent Care in The Institute for Gynecologic Care at Mercy.
According to Dr. O’Connor, there are numerous factors that can make a woman's cycle irregular, including poor sleep, which can lead to a shift in the body's clock, which causes a change in hormones. Weight gain can cause similar problems because excess fat cells result in elevated levels of estrogen, which can ultimately stop the ovaries from releasing an egg.
The same can be said for losing a lot of weight, too.
"It can be a stress on your body, maybe indicating that you're not getting proper nutrition. So, you may not be ready for pregnancy, and then again, the weight change -- whenever there's a drastic physiological change, then your menstrual cycle can be abnormal," Dr. O'Connor said.
But it's not always an issue that can be controlled; it should be addressed by a physician to rule out any health problems.
"If it's drastically different than before, I think it's worth bringing up to make sure it's not something more serious that needs to be addressed," Dr. O’Connor said.
Nya Hamlet is only 17, but she takes her health seriously. That's one of the reasons she keeps careful track of her monthly cycle.
"I track my period with a period tracking app. It gives you the estimated date of when your period will start and when your period will end," Hamlet said.
The Brynn Mawr School student started doing that because medication made her periods irregular. She's glad she asked her doctor about it.
"It's a part of life, and it's important," she said.
View Dr. O’Connor’s interview regarding dealing with irregular periods.
Founded in 1874 in downtown Baltimore by the Sisters of Mercy, Mercy Medical Center is a 183-licensed bed acute care university-affiliated teaching hospital. Mercy has been recognized as a top Maryland hospital by U.S. News & World Report; a Top 100 hospital for Women’s Health & Orthopedics by Healthgrades; is currently A-rated for Hospital Safety (Leapfrog Group), and is recognized by the American Nurses Credentialing Center as a Magnet Hospital. Mercy Medical Center is part of Mercy Health Services (MHS), the parent of Mercy’s primary care and specialty care physician enterprise, known as Mercy Personal Physicians, which employs more than 200 providers with locations in Baltimore, Lutherville, Overlea, Glen Burnie, Columbia and Reisterstown. For more information about Mercy, visit www.mdmercy.com, MDMercyMedia on Facebook, Twitter, or call 1-800-MD-Mercy.