One estimate suggests that the majority of female runners might experience amenorrhea, which can affect not just fertility, as Christine Yu explains here in Outside, but can also damage cardiovascular health and bone strength. Bones break more easily when the body has been stressed like this, as Cain’s did. And yet still, losing your period can be “a badge of honor, a sign that you’re tough and working hard,” writes Yu. The mythology around amenorrhea enforces running as an act of control against the body.
The idea of not having a period can seem pretty appealing: no running around looking for a tampon, no worries about stains, no cramps. However, skipping periods unexpectedly, when there's no obvious reason — like pregnancy — behind their disappearance, is a medical problem, even if you greet it with a sigh of relief. For people who've recently undergone a lot of stress, are working out more than usual, or aren't taking in enough calories, the resulting lack of energy can lead to the loss of a period, which is called hypothalamic amenorrhea.
As the number of female elite athletes has skyrocketed in the past 25 years, researchers say women are at risk of the "female athlete triad" — a spectrum of conditions that include low calorie intake, missed periods, and loss of bone density.
An estimated 25 percent of female elite athletes report chronically missing their periods, and some analyses of ballerinas and long-distance runners suggest the problem is even more prevalent in those groups.
No period, no problem? Think again, says strength and nutrition coach Pennie Varvarides. Your workout routine and menstrual cycle can impact each other more than you think.
Amenorrhea is hardly a new issue in the world of endurance sports.
Studies over the years have reported that over 60% of women athletes have what is known as “Athletic Amenorrhea,” that is disturbed menstruation due to the demands of high intensity training on the body.
My question is, why?
Women are becoming more and more involved in competitive sports and intense workout regimes, but with this rise, amenorrhea (loss of menses for at least 3 months) is also increasing.
The problem for me and many other young women like me is that hypothalamic amenorrhea is not well-known or understood among infertility sufferers or doctors.
There seem to be two different flavors of HA, both with the same manifestations. The first variety comes in women who are normal to low weight, and undereat / overexercise to a BMI anywhere from 21 on down. The second happens in women who were overweight to begin with, then lost a significant amount of weight; in some cases going to low BMIs as well, but occasionally just to a 'normal' BMI of 23-25.
The thing about HA is that its severity and “cure” are different for each woman. The trick is to address all of the kinds of stress that play a role in HA, and to focus on the type of stress that caused your problem in the first place.
The professional perspective...okay, don't freak out! seriously...the controls of reproductive function are complicated. Your ovaries aren't just on autopilot; there are inputs from the brain and the body that are critical for regulation of functions such as ovulation and menstruation.
Some vegan and raw food bloggers believe that menstruation is unclean and a curse—and that we'd be better off without periods at all.
So I thought I would do up a little step-by-step guide on what to do when your period is MIA (and you’re not preggo or have PCOS). Note – I’m planning on writing more thorough book on the topic, but I don’t want those who need help to have to wait that long.
As criticism of coaching methods for female athletes grows, leaders like New York City Marathon winner Shalane Flanagan say women shouldn’t stop menstruating because of hard training,
There are various reasons that could lead to amenorrhea – physiological, genetic, hormonal or deteriorating health. However, there are also ways in which you can try to regularise delayed menstruation. This condition is broadly classified into two categories – primary and secondary amenorrhea.
Recovering from hypothalamic amenorrhea to have a baby.
Primary amenorrhea is an extremely rare condition affecting very few women, which means it can be a very isolating experience. This website is intended as a gesture of solidarity towards all those women who suffer from primary amenorrhea – in the UK and internationally.
Primary amenorrhea occurs when a girl has not had her first period by age 16. Secondary amenorrhea describes women who experience an absence of more than three cycles after having regular periods
The most common cause of amenorrhea is pregnancy. Other causes of amenorrhea include problems with the reproductive organs or with the glands that help regulate hormone levels. Treatment of the underlying condition often resolves amenorrhea.
The menstrual cycle can be influenced by many internal factors such as transient changes in hormonal levels, stress, and illness, as well as external or environmental factors. Missing one menstrual period is rarely a sign of a serious problem or an underlying medical condition, but amenorrhea of longer duration may signal the presence of a disease or chronic condition.
However, absent periods can sometimes be a sign of an underlying medical condition, such as:
•polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) – a condition which can mean your ovaries do not regularly release an egg (ovulate)
•hypothalamic amenorrhoea – where the part of the brain that regulates the menstrual cycle stops working properly (thought to be triggered by excessive exercise, excessive weight loss and stress)
•hyperprolactinaemia – where a person has abnormally high levels of a hormone called prolactin in their blood
•premature ovarian failure – where the ovaries stop working properly in women who have not yet reached the age of natural menopause (usually from 50 years of age)
The prevalence of amenorrhoea (in women of menstruating age) is around 1%. Secondary amenorrhoea is more common in college students, endurance athletes and ballet dancers.