Every woman's menstrual cycle has a different biological timetable, and for most women, this timetable should be fairly consistent. If you have recently begun a new exercise regimen or have consistently worked out over an extended period of time, you may have noticed a change in your menstrual cycle. If this is the case, there may be some things you should know about your body and some actions you can take to get your menstrual cycle back on track.
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The exact reasoning for a shift in exercise-induced menstrual cycles is not entirely known. Georgia Reproductive Specialists explain that the change or cessation of your cycle may be due to low critical fat composition. Menses cease if your body fat falls below 12 percent. Another possibility considers the amount of energy output versus input in a female runner. A high energy deficit in your body may cause a disturbance in your menstrual cycle. An article in US News explains that ghrelin, a hormone that may reduce secretion of other hormones that regulate menstrual function, tends to be higher in athletic and anorexic women, and may be an essential link between energy deficit and the hormones that regulate a female's menstrual function.
In “The Complete Idiot's Guide to Jogging and Running,” author Bill Rodgers explains that running may not be solely to blame for your body's shift in menstruation. He suggests that if your periods become abnormal, wherein your cycle is less than 25 days or less frequent than every 35 days, take caution and consult your medical physician. Some menstrual irregularities may not be caused by physical activity or running, but rather from some other medical condition, which is why it is important to visit your doctor.
TeensHealth lists a number of things you can do to help monitor your body and reduce your chance of experiencing menstrual irregularities. For example, keep track of your menstrual cycle on a monthly basis, noting the day your period begins and ends, as well as any abnormalities in the flow. Also, do not skip meals. As an athlete, you are probably exerting a lot of energy throughout the day and during training sessions. Eat three balanced meals daily and have wholesome snacks on hand throughout the day including foods like dried or fresh fruit, bagels, nuts, yogurt or string cheese.
Amenorrhea is a condition wherein there is a cessation of your menstrual cycle over a period of at least three months. If you suffer from this condition, seek help from a health professional. A lack of menses can reduce the amount of estrogen in your body, which can cause additional health problems such as infertility and low bone density, a condition that can compound into osteoporosis.
- "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Running and Jogging"; Bill Rodgers; 1998
- MayoClinic.com; Amenorrhea; May 2011
- KidsHealth: Female Athlete Triad
- "US News"; Menstruation Cessation in Female Teen Athletes May Be Caused by Hormone; June 16, 2008
- Georgia Reproductive Specialists: Menstrual Disturbances in Female Athletes