FRIDAY, May 11 (HealthDay News) -- Obese women often stop getting their periods, but new research suggests weight-loss surgery can help regulate their monthly cycles, while also stemming excessive hair growth and skin problems that often accompany significant weight gain.
"Obesity is a huge problem in the United States," said study author Chandhana Paka, a fellow in minimally invasive gynecological surgery at Stanford University School of Medicine. "We wanted to see if bariatric surgery [weight-loss surgery] was a solution to helping restore menstruation in morbidly obese women whose periods have become irregular or disappeared."
She said hormonal changes that occur when women reach a high body-mass index (BMI) -- production of more male hormones, for example -- can lead to menstrual disturbances. BMI is a calculation based on weight and height.
Paka, who was a resident at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York City when she conducted the study in 2008 and 2009, and her colleagues were scheduled to present their research this week at the annual meeting of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, in San Diego.
For the study, the scientists monitored 126 women planning to undergo bariatric surgery, which involves reducing stomach size to help patients cut back on food intake in order to reach a healthy weight.
The women were between 18 and 49 years old, and not yet in perimenopause, the time approaching menopause. Their average age was 39, Paka said.
The average BMI of the study participants was 46, well over the normal range of about 18 to 24, said Paka. Prior to surgery, 52 percent said they had regular periods; 39 percent reported irregular periods and 22 percent reported no periods.
Twelve months after surgery, Paka said, the average BMI was down to 33, and 99 percent who had previously reported irregular menses had st
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