10 common signs of reproductive issues in young people

Adolescence is an important stage for both girls and boys to understand their bodies and gain knowledge about the factors that can affect their reproductive health adversely. Some of the common reproductive issues in young people are delayed or early puberty, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), Amenorrhea, unintended pregnancies, and menstrual disorders. It is pertinent for adolescents, both male and female, have information about contraception, STI prevention, and healthy relationships. According to studies, about half of all HIV infections are among youth ages 15 to 24. Young adults also need to be educated about their bodies, sexuality, contraceptives, pregnancy and other issues. (Also read: Men, eat these 6 foods to cut prostate cancer risk)

“Adolescence is the time when a girl or boy transition towards puberty, a process where a girl’s or boy’s body exhibits physical changes as they mature into an adult capable of sexual reproduction. This is crucial as youngsters experience rapid physical, cognitive, and psychosocial growth,” says Dr. Suhasini Inamdar, Consultant – Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, Motherhood Hospitals, Indiranagar, Bangalore.

Here are common signs of reproductive issues in young people explained by Dr Inamdar and Dr. Rolika Keshri, Senior Consultant Obstetrics & Gynaecology, CARE Hospitals, Hi-Tec City, Hyderabad.

1. Delayed puberty

Sexual development usually occurs in a specific timeframe. A delay in the production of testosterone in boys and oestrogen in girls may result in delayed puberty.

2. Male hypogonadism

Hypogonadism is a condition in which the testes are unable to produce testosterone, a hormone that plays a crucial role in masculine growth and development during puberty.

3. Early puberty

Puberty that happens earlier than anticipated is called precocious puberty. This means a child’s sexual maturity develops sooner than usual. Early puberty may start before 8 years in girls or 9 years in boys.

4. Amenorrhea

A condition when a girl’s menstrual bleeding doesn’t occur. Causes of amenorrhea may be hormonal imbalance, birth defects, lack of exercise, or eating habits. The other reasons would be issues related to birth canal passage.

5. Abnormal uterine bleeding

A common phenomenon among teenagers where bleeding from the uterus is longer than usual at irregular intervals. This happens when the ovaries fail to release an egg resulting in heavier or lighter bleeding.

Adolescent sexual and reproductive health should not be overlooked because it may affect the child’s life in the later stages. Before it is too late, you should take your child for regular follow ups.

6. Irregular or absent menstrual cycles

Initial few cycles after menarche (1st onset of menstruation) are mostly anovulatory hence periods could be irregular. But this type of irregularity settles down without medication over few months or years.

7. Polycystic Ovarian Disorder/Syndrome

It is a very common cause of irregular and scanty periods which can be associated with acne, abnormal weight gains, abnormal hair growth on face and chest (hirsutism) and infertility. The ailment can be sorted out mostly with lifestyle changes like regular exercising, diet control and weight reduction.

8. Painful periods (dysmenorrhea)

Severe menstrual cramps before or during periods can be a major health problem for young ladies. The causes could be from normal ovulatory cycle to endometriosis. This can be treated by normal painkillers, counselling, home remedies, heat packs or in severe cases by Oral contraceptive (OC) pills or sometimes surgery for endometriosis.

9. Abnormal vaginal discharge

Abnormal vaginal discharge with unusual colour, odour or consistency, associated with itching or blisters can be a sign of infection or underlying health issues. STDs (Sexually transmitted diseases) are common reason for these discharges hence one should consult a doctor for this.

10. Abnormal growth

Cysts/lumps in the reproductive areas like ovarian cysts, tumours, uterines fibroids, breast lump (fibroadenomas) may need medical attention.

Cervical cancer vaccination should be taken for all women between the age of 9 years to 45 years to prevent cervical cancer. It is important to note that symptoms can also be caused by other health issues and not all individuals with these symptoms have reproductive dysfunction. It is always best to consult a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.