Dr. Shahnaz Hafeez Kawoosa
IN WOMEN, a regular menstrual cycle is one of the signs of healthy reproductive health. Menstrual disorders are proven to affect the quality of life of adolescent girls and women especially those who suffer from dysmenorrhea and menorrhagia.
Dietary habits play a vital role in maintaining a healthy lifestyle and quality of life in a female. Food habits and menstrual dysfunction in young women are interrelated. This relationship can be emphasised by studying their dietary habits that eventually gives rise to gynaecological disorders. Moreover, factors like such as diet quality, abnormal eating behaviors, body weight, calorie intake, and body mass index determine the etiology of menstrual dysfunction and reproductive health of women. Hormones such as progesterone independently influence the dietary intake behaviour of women
The following are certain dietary factors that might affect a woman’s menstrual cycle.
Excess calorie intake
Excess calorie intake gives rise to conditions such as increase in body weight and obesity which are also related to irregular menstrual cycle. The onset of obesity due to excessive calorie intake during an early age can significantly affect menstruation in later reproductive age. Obese women tend to have abnormal serum levels of sex hormone-binding globulin and sex steroid hormones. A low fat diet can increase serum sex hormone binding globulin and reduce body weight and BMI.
Fasting and refraining the body from daily dietary needs can be considered as risk factor for the development of menstrual disturbance in young women. The serum progesterone concentration decreases in women who fast and the duration of the luteal phase become shorter when compared with the normal luteal phase duration.
History of Dieting
For social acceptance, adolescents tend to follow dietary restrictions and lose weight having sound knowledge of BMI and age -specific body weight. Those who practice dieting tend to have a higher incidence of irregular menstruation because of the dietary limitations that induce ovarian dysfunction. Adolescents with the history of dieting are more prone to dysmenorrhea despite not having irregular menses while as the incidence of irregular menses is more in young women who practice dieting.
Author is an Associate Professor at Kashmir Tibbia College Hospital and Research Centre, Sumbal. She can be reached at: [email protected]
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