Exercise and a healthy diet are the hallmark of good stewardship of the body. However, too much of a good thing such as excessive exercise, can contribute to menopause irregular periods.
As female athletes face greater competition and higher expectation in the world of sports and training, their reproductive systems stand a risk of being compromised. Excess physical training and exercise can significantly lower the body mass index (BMI) or fat content in the female body triggering adverse hormonal changes that affect the reproductive system.
Many female athletes, who train extensively for competition or women who simply like to exercise a great deal, may experience a menstrual dysfunction called amenorrhea. Amenorrhea is loosely defined as the lack of menstruation. The following criteria has been established to outline what delineates amenorrhea:
• Less than three menstrual periods in one year
• The absence of menstrual cycles from three to twelve months
• One period in the past ten months
• Occurs in female athletes at a rate of 20 times more frequently than the general female population
• It is experienced by 50 percent of all female athletes.
There are two types of amenorrhea:• Primary Amenorrhea - occurs in women who have never had a period commence
• Secondary Amenorrhea - occurs when a woman who has begun regular periods but then cease to be steady
Causes of AmenorrheaA natural cause for amenorrhea is pregnancy, breastfeeding and menopause. Other results from excess exercise in correlation with irregular periods are considered to be the following:
• Low Body Fat -It is believed that low body fat may be one of the triggers that initiate hormonal events that culminate into amenorrhea. Body fat in women need to be kept at least 16 percent in order to ovulate. When body fat drops down below this level, ovulation terminates and menstruation halts. Studies do show that it may also be the rate in which the body fat is lost rather than the amount.
• Dietary Considerations - In observation of hard training female athletes on strict, low caloric diets, menstrual disorders are common. Low fat diets for an athlete can bring the total body fat index down to levels that start to affect hormone production and create menstrual dysfunction.
• Exercise and Training Intensity - There is a direct correlation as to the duration and intensity of exercise and irregular periods. Short-term exercise may provoke a brief affect on certain hormone levels whereas protracted and intense workouts in long durations will produce significant changes in reproductive hormone levels.
Natural Treatment of Exercise Induced Irregular Periods:Slowly introducing a higher caloric healthy diet in order to raise body fat back to levels that would re-induce menstruation is recommended. Women with amenorrhea that increase their calories and tone down their workouts, report that they do experience weeks of frequent bleeding before their cycles resume a regular rhythm.
Alternative measures may also aid in the resumption of a normal period. Acupuncture is believed to serve greatly in helping to re-adjust hormonal imbalances that cause irregular menses. Massage therapy, reflexology and aromatherapy have also contributed toward easing the discomfort of irregular periods.
Frequent but brief menstrual cycles? Learn more about this menopausal symptom.