Not for boys……you’ve been warned

3 Nov

medical-books

When I first started changing my eating and going really hard at Crossfit my menstrual cycle started to slow down and even disappear for one month. I didn’t think too much about it because I knew diet and exercise can change your hormone levels. Then I saw a post on Paleo Jen’s Blog about her changes and Lindsay mentioned she had some changes as well so I thought I should do some research on this.

I remembered reading something in Chris Carmichael’s book Food for Fitness so I dug that out and sure enough there it was. Its called Athletic Amenorrhea.  Athletic amenorrhea is when a woman does not have periods because she exercises very intensely and is very lean. Some women with athletic amenorrhea stop having periods. Others never get their first period until years after the age at which most girls start menstruating. Some of these women may never get a period until they are in their 20s. Intense exercise and extreme thinness may reduce the levels of hormones that regulate a woman’s periods. These hormones, estrogen and progesterone, are important for overall body health. Estrogen is especially vital for healthy bones. Athletic amenorrhea is often seen in sports that stress thinness, such as gymnastics, figure skating, and long-distance running. When thinness is heavily emphasized, some young women may develop eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia. A person with anorexia diets to excess, sometimes to the point of starving. People with bulimia binge (eat a lot at one time) and then purge, either by vomiting, using laxatives, or exercising too much.

Now you don’t need to panic, I don’t think any of us (me, Jen, Lindsay) have this but I do think the change in our exercise and diet has affected the levels of our hormones enough for our bodies to have a reaction. As a matter of fact when I started the Zone diet I read the book and all it talks about in the first section is regulating your hormone levels. A lot of people who start the Paleo diet and the Zone diet say the first two weeks are the hardest and its partly because you are changing your hormone levels to healthy levels if you are doing it right.

So what do we do? Well if your menstrual cycle has stopped all together for more than 3 months you need to see your doctor immediately. This condition can lead to several problems in the future including bone loss. If your menstrual cycle has slowed down or made some small changes you might want to make sure you are giving your body the things a “womans” body needs. You should have 1500 mg of Calcium a day. Make sure your are not cutting your diet too much, animal protein especially red meat is a great source of Iron, calcium and other nutrients a woman needs. I know we all want to get lean and look great but not at the expense of our health. Another thing to think about that I have read in the last few days researching all this is men can maintain a lower level of body fat then women can. Men will be just fine at 10% body fat and lower. I am sure I will get argument on this but women need to maintain a little higher level like 15% and up in order to maintain their hormone level. But don’t take it from me read about it on your own. I typed Athletic Amenorrhea into google and got plenty of info. Here are some links that I thought were cool also.

http://cassandraforsythe.blogspot.com/2009/03/feedback-on-athletic-amenorrhea.html -Cassandra’s blog is very informative and she is a woman who does weight training as opposed to the endurance sports and she even had a change.

She also links to a study that is being done at Pen State on the subject- http://www.refuel.psu.edu/

http://www.femalefitnessblog.com/2008/02/24/athletic-amenorrhea-too-much-of-a-good-thing/

http://www.fitnessandfreebies.com/fitness/archive/late.html

http://jcem.endojournals.org/cgi/content/full/84/6/1892

 

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2 Responses to “Not for boys……you’ve been warned”

  1. Jen G. November 3, 2009 at 10:41 pm #

    Punky, I feel like you’re my crossfit mother! Thanks for everything you do for us! Including researching weird things.

  2. lindsay November 3, 2009 at 10:55 pm #

    great post punky, thanks for all the helpful information. on a side note: you killed the wod today. the only girl to rxd!

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