Help! My daughter’s menstrual cycle is irregular

My 17-year-old daughter’s menstrual cycle is highly irregular. She got her last menstrual period four months ago. I fear she is suffering from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)? Should I consult a gynaecologist? — Reeja Manoj, Calicut

In the first two years, following the onset of menstruation, the cycle tends to be irregular in most girl children. They become regular subsequently. If menstrual irregularity persists even after two years, she needs physical evaluation to rule out thyroid disorders, PCOS and other hormonal dysfunctions. It’s important to consult a gynaecologist as early intervention minimises health risks.

My daughter attained puberty when she was 14 years. Now she is 17. Recently, I’ve observed that there’s hair growth on her upper lip, giving her a slight moustache. She is very upset about this facial hair growth. Will this hair growth intensify? —Sreesha Bhansal, Bhubaneswar

Abnormal facial hair growth occurs for several reasons. Sometimes it is hereditary. If your daughter is suffering from PCOS, irregular menstrual cycles, obesity, acne or pigmentation on the nape of neck, you need to consult a gynaecologist. If the hair growth is associated with voice changes, you must consult an endocrinologist. Meanwhile she could visit a beauty parlour.

When I was pregnant with my son, I developed gestational diabetes. Does this place him at risk of developing juvenile diabetes? What precautions should I take?— Meenakshi Kammath, Mangalore

Children born to mothers with gestational diabetes are at risk of developing diabetes type 1 later in life. Several recent studies have found that the incidence of juvenile diabetes is marginally higher in such children. This risk increases if there’s a family history of diabetes. I recommend yearly blood sugar testing and monitoring, maintaining normal body weight, regular exercise and a healthy diet to help your child fight diabetes.

I have a three-year-old son and five-month-old baby girl. I breastfeed my daughter, but I get the feeling that she isn’t satisfied with the amount of milk she is getting. My son used to suckle fast. But my daughter suckles slowly and also falls asleep during the feed. Should I shift to formula milk feeding? — Prakrithi Singh, New Delhi

If your daughter’s weight gain is normal, there is nothing to worry about as infants tend to self-regulate the quantity of breast milk they need. But if she is not gaining weight, and you still feel she is not content after feeding, it could be due to a congenital disease which requires detailed assessment by a paediatrician.

Formula milk falls way short of breast milk, in terms of nutritional value. It also contains added sugar, which an infant doesn’t need. I recommend that you also consult a lactation counsellor who can advise proper feeding position, latching-on techniques, etc. It is worth making the effort to continue to breastfeed the infant as it provides optimal nutrition and boosts the immunity of children.

(Dr. Jayashree S. is associate professor, department of obstetrics and gynaecology, Government Medical College, Kozhikode)

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