Menstrual Disorder May Help Female Athletes, Thesis

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A researcher in Sweden has found widespread congenital explanation for menstrual dysfunction could assist feminine athletes succeed by barely elevating their

testosterone stage.

The examine was the doctoral thesis of Magnus Hagmar, a postgraduate with the Division of Girl and Baby Well being on the Swedish medical college Karolinska

Institutet in Stockholm.

“What we’re coping with is only a tiny enhance in ranges, which may make it simpler for the ladies to construct muscle mass and soak up oxygen,” mentioned


“Because of this they could have gotten faster outcomes from their coaching and subsequently been inspired to coach tougher and extra usually,” he added.

Hagmar mentioned his discovering might overturn previous notions that strenuous bodily exercise reminiscent of in elite sports activities can harm girls’s well being.

The situation that causes menstrual dysfunction and barely raises testosterone is known as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and it isn’t unusual. PCOS is a

hormone irregularity and a number one explanation for infertility amongst girls.

Throughout his analysis Hagmar discovered that not solely is PCOS a standard explanation for menstrual issues amongst elite Olympic athletes, however there was the next incidence

of polycystic ovaries amongst Olympic feminine athletes (37 per cent) in contrast with girls basically (20 per cent).

Altogether Hagmar, who’s assistant senior doctor on the girls’s clinic at Karolinska College Hospital, examined 233 women and men who had competed in

the 2002 and 2004 Olympic Video games, and 90 girls who’re coaching for the 2008 Video games.

Even amongst feminine athletes, Hagmar discovered important variations:

“It is significantly attention-grabbing that the share of girls with polycystic ovaries was larger in energy sports activities like ice hockey and wrestling than in

technical sports activities like archery and curling,” he mentioned.

Hagmar mentioned the outcomes weren’t confounded by doping, since all 90 feminine athletes included in his examine had taken common drug exams that got here up


Intimately, the research that Hagmar carried out confirmed that:

  • Among the many 223 Swedish athletes who took half within the 2002 and 2004 Olympic Video games, these taking part in sports activities that emphasize leanness confirmed much less

    fascinating weight management and extra frequent sickness than rivals in different disciplines, significantly the lads.

  • Amongst 90 of the ladies, and particularly the endurance athletes, menstrual dysfunction was frequent.
  • The commonest explanation for menstrual dysfunction was PCOS, fairly than hypothalamic inhibition (inhibition of the hormone regulating gland within the


  • No indicators of power vitality deficiency have been noticed, based mostly on analysis of physique fats content material and biomarkers of vitality availability.
  • Bone mineral density (BMD) was typically excessive and not one of the feminine athletes exhibited osteopenia or osteoporosis.
  • Amongst 20 postmenopausal former elite athletes there was enhanced endothelial perform in these not utilizing hormone remedy.
  • Amongst those that did use hormone remedy, this was linked with endothelial perform just like that of sedentary girls (controls).
  • Blood ranges of cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (the “unhealthy” ldl cholesterol), physique fats content material have been decrease in former athletes in contrast with controls.
  • Train capability, left and proper cardiac ventricles, and left atrial and stroke volumes have been all considerably higher among the many former elite athletes

    than among the many controls.

Hagmar concluded that:

“Our findings problem the up to date idea that reproductive dysfunction in sportswomen is often a consequence of power vitality


“Right here, the only most frequent underlying explanation for menstrual disturbances in Olympic athletes was the hyperandrogenic dysfunction PCOS. Lengthy-term strenuous

train is related to minor modifications in cardiac construction, however total helpful results on train capability, vascular perform and cardiovascular

danger components,” added Hagmar.

For a while, there was a perception amongst scientists that robust coaching, mixed with low vitality consumption, is linked to menstrual dysfunction in elite feminine

athletes, a phenomenon also known as the “feminine athlete triad”.

This concept was introduced into common consciousness in Ridley Scott’s movie GI Jane, the place Demi Moore performs Lieutenant Jordan O’Neil, a communications officer who’s

chosen to be the primary feminine member of the US Navy’s SEAL program, thought of to be essentially the most demanding navy coaching on this planet. Within the movie, O’Neil

stops menstruating, which a medical officer who examines her throughout a examine up explains is because of the exhausting bodily coaching.

The feminine athlete triad has additionally been linked to low bone density (osteopenia), regarded as because of low ranges of oestrogen. However Hagmar’s outcomes confirmed

that elite feminine athletes have very robust bones, regardless of having menstrual issues.

Hagmar additionally concluded that the place low body weight is a bonus, reminiscent of in sure sports activities, feminine athletes typically have a more healthy approach to management their

weight, in comparison with their male colleagues.

Whereas he couldn’t fully rule out low vitality consumption as a think about inflicting menstrual dysfunction in elite sportswomen (there was one case among the many

members in his examine), it’s removed from being the most typical trigger.

“The truth that not a single girl had low bone density takes away one of many components of the feminine athlete triad.”

“Menstrual standing and long-term cardiovascular results of intense train in prime elite athlete girls.”

Magnus Hagmar.
Doctoral thesis, printed on-line 18 April 2008.
ISBN: 978-91-7357-549-2

Click here for Abstract and download link to the full


Supply: Karolinska Institutet.

Written by: Catharine Paddock, PhD

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