Does participation in exercise hinder menstruation?
It has been said that in some instances, highly trained athletes can develop amenorrhea during training and competition. However, it's not known whether this is caused by physical or emotional stress related to high-intensity training, excessively low body fat, or other factors.
Active teenage girls who are competing in exercise can develop symptoms that include loss of period (amennorhea). It is known as a triad (three) of symptoms because all 3 tend to occur together. These are:
1. eating disorders, e.g. bulimia and anorexia, which may also include excessive exercising
2. Loss of period, probably because their body fat has gone too low, and
3. osteoporosis - brittle bones.
Why do these occur together? It is likely that the eating disorders and excessive exercising are these teens' ways of competing and improving their times. Lose weight - move faster, excessive exercising - well if I get fitter when I do some, then doing lots and lots should make me even better!
The loss of period and osteoporosis follow on from these. Loss of period probably because their body fat dips below what is necessary for their body to menstruate. Osteoporosis because dairy foods and other calcium containing foods are rejected. Both these also occur in girls with eating disorders who do not exercise excessively, so are likely to be diet / lifestyle related.
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The hormone balance of the body is interrupted resulting in loss of period.
When a female exercises too much for their body it reduces the amounts of nutrients needed to conduct normal body processes. Exercise takes a toll on the body, even when done properly and the body needs time and nutrients to recover. When no sufficient rest and nutrients are provided, the body stops menstruating, one of many normal body processes. Even if the training is broken up but still totals several hours daily, amenorrhea can result. There is a relation between diet and lifestyle as DreamerMeg stated.
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