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Athletic Amenorrhea

Posted Mar 17 2009 3:07am

Cassandra and I at the ISSN (International Society of Sports Nutrition) conference in New Orleans

To start the week I will dedicate this to all the ladies out there (don't worry boys, there are more articles to come which relate to everyone). I think this is a popular topic that doesn't get much attention in magazines. Perhaps you have discussed it with people on a forum or you just keep it to yourself. It is also important that males understand the female body requirements and the struggles that we go through in order to be active and strong women. Remember, the human body does wonders for us everyday and we must give it the right fuel on a daily basis.
If you have any questions please email me or post on my blog. If you would like to give your opinion or story, just email me and let me know if you'd like me to post on my blog w/ or w/o your name.

This is from my good friend Cassandra Forsythe, PhD, RD intern, CISSN, CSCS. Author, researcher and nutritionist.

Are you an active woman that has lost her period for more than 6 months in a row and it’s not due to pregnancy or another hormonal alteration? If so, you may be one who is experiencing a phenomenon known as athletic amenorrhea. Amenorrhea basically means loss of menses for > 6months. Women who have lost their periods for no other reason than increased energy expenditure with exercise, are actually putting their health at risk. Did you know that loss of your period is your body’s way of telling you that you’re not eating enough and your estrogen and progesterone levels are too low? Although we have a love and hate relationship with estrogen and progesterone (can we say PMS?), estrogen in particular is necessary for normal bone reformation, and normal cardiovascular function. Women with very low estrogen levels have increased risk for bone fractures due to decreased bone density. They also have heightened risk for heart disease due to dysfunction in the way their blood vessels are designed to work. If these conditions persist, they can lead to the worse bone state possible, osteoporosis, and fatal cardiovascular disease. Yes, even though being active is good for your health, if you don’t eat enough to support your activity, you can and will put your health at risk.
If you have experienced this state, the first thing you need to do is assess whether or not you’re eating enough to meet the demands of your activity. Some women think they’re eating enough, but if you’ve lost your period, there’s a 99% chance that you are not. Inadequate food energy intake will lead your body to divert energy from non-essential functions, like menstruation. One of the primary macronutrients women don’t get enough of when they exercise is dietary fat. Contrary to popular sports nutrition recommendations, women’s bodies use fat very well as a fuel source and when it’s not consumed in adequate quantities, your body may respond by stopping menstruation. Thus, eat an egg yolk with breakfast, snack on nuts and seeds, add nut butter to your favorite sprouted grain breads, eat salmon for dinner, and add avocado and olive oil to your salads. Carbohydrate and protein are also important nutrients as they help your body meet its overall energy needs. Don’t underestimate what your body needs to function normally, because if you do, the first thing to go is your period, and the health of your bones and heart will quickly follow.

http://www.cassandraforsythe.com/
Cassandra is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Connecticut studying exercise science and nutrition. Originating from Northern British Columbia, she received her MS in Human Nutrition and Metabolism in 2004, and her BS in Nutrition and Food Science with distinction, in 2002 from the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. She will graduate in 2009 and will become certified as a Registered Dietitian (RD) in 2009. Her main research interests are low-carbohydrate nutrition, dietary fatty acids, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, weight-loss, female-specific nutrition and training, and the female athlete triad. Her PhD dissertation project is exploring the ideal fatty acid composition of a weight-maintaining low-carbohydrate diet though a highly-controlled feeding intervention.
Cassandra has written two books that I'm sure you've seen in the stores: "The new rules of women lifting" and "women's health perfect body diet"


THANKS CASSANDRA!!!! :)
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