Even though periods are supposed to be predictable things, many women experience the occasional delayed or missed period for any number of reasons. Your menstrual cycle is regulated by your hormones, and if your hormones are "off" for any reason, you can experience secondary amenorrhea, or a missed period. Intense exercise or increased exercise that leads to extreme fat loss can alter your hormone balance and contribute to secondary amenorrhea.
If you recently increased your exercise duration or intensity, it may throw your hormones off temporarily. Exercise places stress on your body, and intense or prolonged exercise performed frequently can cause hormonal changes. These changes might lead to a short-term loss of your period, but your body should adjust to your new workout program and your period should return. According to Drugs.com, if you skip more than three periods or if you experience consistently irregular periods, you should consult your doctor to determine whether there's another underlying cause of your amenorrhea.
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Exercise and Weight Loss
Women naturally carry more body fat than men. This sex-related fat helps support the female reproductive system and helps regulate the female sex hormones. Most women need at least 15 to 17 percent body fat, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, in order to support regular hormonal function. If you engage in increased exercise that causes you to lose a lot of fat, you're more likely to experience missed periods. If you suspect that this may be contributing to the reason for your amenorrhea, talk to your doctor and back off on your workouts until your regular period returns.
Individuals who have missed a period for more than six months after having already experienced at least one normal menstrual period are officially in "secondary amenorrhea," according to MedlinePlus. Women experiencing secondary amenorrhea due to pregnancy or menopause have nothing to worry about, but if you're missing your period for six months due to an increase in exercise, you could be experiencing other detrimental side effects of which you're unaware. Make sure you talk to your doctor, coaches and other health professionals in order to be screened for potential bone loss.
Female Athlete Triad
The female athlete triad can occur in any woman who engages in frequent, extended and intense exercise. The triad includes three facets: disordered eating, amenorrhea and osteoporosis. Basically, individuals who exercise intensely and adjust their eating habits in a way that leads to extreme weight loss may end up losing their periods. This occurs when estrogen levels drop to an extent that menstruation is no longer triggered. A limit in nutrient intake combined with a decrease in estrogen can prevent bones from taking in the calcium they need to remain healthy and strong. The female athlete triad is a very serious condition that can seriously affect long-term health and well-being in women.