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Are irregular menstrual periods in an athlete a concern?

Posted Oct 01 2008 8:12pm

Not getting enough calories can cause lack of periods or irregular periods, and this is common in sports that emphasize weight control such as gymnastics or diving.
However, Swedish researchers showed that irregular periods in female athletes are usually caused by high levels of male hormones, rather than just by not eating enough food (Fertility and Sterility, Volume 79, Issue 4, 2003). The researchers found that many female athletes who have irregular periods have much higher blood levels of masculinizing hormones than those with regular periods.

Female athletes with irregular periods and high male hormone levels usually also have larger muscles and bones, and are stronger than the athletes with regular periods. This study suggests that women who have high blood levels of male hormones are more likely to become athletes and the masculinizing hormones that make them better athlete are also likely to cause irregular periods. See my report on Polycycstic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), and check with your doctor or a gynecologist.

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