Find answers to the questions related to athletic amenorrhea by going through the women’s health article below. This will help you understand the causes, treatment options and possible side effects of athletic amenorrhea in detail.
Women have proved that they are equal to men when it comes to sports. There are many talented women in the field of sports who have dedicated their lives to their game. But like other women, these sportswomen too have their monthly cycles. They may take measures to avoid flow during big games. Many of these women complain of not getting their periods consecutively for 3 months or more. This condition is called athletic amenorrhea.
You may consider athletic amenorrhea as a blessing in disguise. But this is a sign of a medical health complication that may lead to many side effects in the long run.
What is Amenorrhea?
To understand athletic amenorrhea, we need to understand amenorrhea. It is a state when a woman does not get her periods for consecutive months. There are basically two types of amenorrhea, primary and secondary. Primary is the one where a girl does not start with her menstruation up to 16 years of age. Secondary is the one where a woman who has had regular menstruation cycle, stops having periods consecutively for 3 or more months.
What is Athletic Amenorrhea?
Athletic amenorrhea is not having periods consecutively for 3 months or more in women who undergo intense exercise or are very lean. In many cases, women with athletic amenorrhea never start their periods by the age 20 years. Some women athletes stop having periods all together.
What are the Causes of Athletic Amenorrhea?
Athletic amenorrhea causes include extreme thinness and following an intense exercise regime. This causes reduction in the female hormones, estrogen and progesterone. These hormones are very important for strong bones and a healthy body. A reduction in these hormone levels is often seen due to sports stress in women who are long distance runners, figure skaters and gymnasts. It’s also seen in athletes who have eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia.
What are the Symptoms of Athletic Amenorrhea?
The first symptom of athletic amenorrhea is not getting periods for 3 months or more at a stretch. The bones become brittle due to estrogen deficiency that causes lack of calcium in bones. It leads to osteoporosis and high risk of stress fractures. When a woman shows symptoms of athletic amenorrhea, eating disorder and osteoporosis, she is said to be suffering from ‘female athlete triad’.
What is the Treatment for Athletic Amenorrhea?
Athletic amenorrhea treatment aims to solve this menstrual problem. The woman is asked to reduce her training levels by 10 to 15% and eat more of carbohydrates, proteins and calories. This will help the body build some fat and stay healthy. Calcium rich food will ensure that the bones remain strong and do not become weak and brittle. Hormonal imbalance is solved by taking birth control pills or estrogen and progesterone pills to start the periods again.
What are the Side Effects of Athletic Amenorrhea?
There are many athletic amenorrhea side effects that include increase in hair growth in the form of a male pattern. This occurs when the levels of female hormones (estrogen and progesterone) decrease and androgen level increases. Other side effects include headaches, reduction in peripheral vision, galactorrhea (spontaneous milk production in breast unassociated with childbirth or nursing), night sweats, hot flashes, sleeping problems and vaginal dryness.
One can prevent athletic amenorrhea by following a healthy and nutritious diet. One needs to take at least 1500 mg of calcium daily in their diet. Exercise and training volume needs to be normal and not very intense. A woman athlete needs to gain about 2 to 5 pounds of weight as it will help in starting her periods. Make sure to visit a doctor and get the hormonal levels corrected.
Do not take missing periods in your stride. It may lead to infertility and many other serious complications in your future life. No one enjoys the monthly flow visits. But, it sure indicates your body is functioning normally and leaves you at peace.