What Am I Doing Wrong?

High Energy Women

More than ever before, women are actively taking charge of their health and doing the things they love to do in order to feel great and look great.  We see many women in competitive sports often training as hard as or harder than the men in order to secure their place in the sun.  When an athletic woman wants to get pregnant, her sport and fitness lifestyle may need to be assessed.

Physical Exertion and Diet

Physical exertion can affect fertility by creating a situation where menses ceases.  This is called secondary amenorrhea, or the cessation of periods after they've occurred.  Elite athletes, ballet dancers, long distance runners and gymnasts, essentially those with rigorous training schedules, often experience amenorrhea.  Along with the high energy output usually comes a great deal of stress, performance anxiety, and eating habits that contribute to low body fat.  Excessively low body weight can interrupt many different hormonal  functions in a woman's body, particularly ovulation.  Eating disorders seem to be part of the program as well, affecting women in all lifestyles, from fitness professionals to models. Anorexia or bulimia creates abnormal hormonal changes which affect menstruation. 

The Effects of Stress

Stress, which is not only attendant in competitive sports, is added to by the desire to become pregnant and not achieving success.  Stress is another factor in amenorrhea as it temporarily alters the functions of the hypothalamus, that part of the brain that controls the hormonal regulation of menstruation.  Ovulation and menstruation can cease as a result of stress.  If stress cannot be addressed by lifestyle changes, then perhaps seeking help from family, friends or a medical professional will help to bring relief.

A Few Basic Changes...

It is not only competitive athletes and performers who are affected with this common concern.  Women who just want to be fit and slim go to extremes as well.  Interruption in the normal menstrual cycle is an obvious and repairable problem which can be addressed effectively by making some basic lifestyle changes.  By simply making the changes in both diet and intensity of exercise in order to achieve a healthy weight and reduce the stress on the body, ovulation and menses can be restored naturally.  It is important to have balance in life, whether it is work, play or rest. 

...And, Voila!

Amenorrhea has a wide variety of causes therefore,  treatment is based upon cause.  While there are certainly enough cases of amenorrhea which require medication, it is possible that by following a few recommendations in terms of addressing diet and exercise, menstruation will resume and hopefully the next time it ceases, you'll be pregnant!