Air pollution may cause irregular menstrual cycles in teenage girls

The air that teenage girls breathe may be causing irregular menstrual cycles, according to a study, which showed negative health effects from air pollution exposure could lead to infertility, metabolic syndrome and polycystic ovary syndrome.

The study, published in the journal Human Reproduction is the first to show the association between polluted air and irregular menstrual periods in girls aged 14 to 18.

According to Shruthi Mahalingaiah from the Boston University School of Medicine, the study suggests that there may be other systems, besides pulmonary and cardiovascular systems which might be affected by air pollution exposure 

The researchers made use of health and location data from the Nurses' Health Study-2 and air pollution exposure metrics from the EPA air quality monitoring system to understand participants' exposure during a particular time window.

According to Dr Archana Dhawan Bajaj, Gynecologist, Obstetrician and IVF Expert, The Nurture Clinic, ''Particulate matter can create hormonal problems in the body, and once these hormonal changes happen it causes irregular menstrual cycle.''

According to health experts, poor menstrual cycle could also occur due to increase in weight, wrong eating habits, less physical exercise and poor lifestyle pattern.

However, Dr Alka Kriplani, head of department of gynaecology, AIIMS, said there is no direct evidence  to suggest that air pollution creates irregular menstrual cycle. She said, ''Poor air quality can cause respiratory and cardiovascular issues but prolonged breathing-in bad air quality can create stress and other hormonal issues in the body.''

Air pollution is known to cause a variety of other health problems, including asthma in children, high blood pressure, cardiovascular health issues, and even disrupted sleep.

A report published in 2017 by the Copenhagen-based European Environment Agency (EEA) also pointed out that air pollution causes more than 500,000 premature deaths across Europe each year despite attempts to improve air quality. Also, a 2015 report found that pollution killed nine million people in 2015.