Usually, women should not have any issue with their menstrual cycles regardless of their level of activity. However, it might so happen that some active girls may miss their periods. Especially, girls, or even women, who train very hard, may skip several menstrual periods. Weight loss is a contributing factor here; even changes in food habits can lead to problems with menstrual cycles. Inadequate nutrition, excess stress, and activities lead to irregular periods at times. In addition, lower levels of estrogen and reduced bone mass could be a reason too.
Healthcare experts, coaches, and athletes are often heard talking about Female Athlete Triad, where triad means three. It refers to a group of three general problems, which most female athletes suffer from:
- Poor Nutrition: Lack of nutrition indicates that the body is not receiving adequate energy from foods. Even though athletes eat the same amount of food on a daily basis, it may not be adequate for some women, especially in maintaining their normal body weight. Some women may not get adequate calories, too, while others do not have healthy fats needed. To have regular periods, it is very important to get adequate nutrition and maintain estrogen levels. Some sportswomen and athletes may also suffer from eating disorders like bulimia or anorexia nervosa.
- Amenorrhea: When a woman misses her menstrual periods for over 6 months, it is known as Amenorrhea. Weight loss, intense exercise and training, and disordered eating are some of the commonly known causes of this condition. Women’s body requires certain amount of healthy fats to maintain themselves; when the level of nutrition drops, especially fats and other vital nutrients, amenorrhea may effect. Having irregular periods or too light flow is an indication that your body is not getting adequate nutrients.
- Reduced Bone Mass: When bones are weak, it can lead to severe problems for female athletes. Even though exercise and activity is needed for building stronger bones, too much exercise can also cause this problem. Especially in case of teenage girls, reduced bone mass as a result of exercise can cause problems with their menstrual cycle. It is very important to get balanced nutrition.
Some Health and Fitness Tips for Female Athletes
- Supply adequate fuel to your body to ensure you are energized. You must eat a balanced diet to get adequate calories so that you can get maximum benefits from your training. If your body weight is normal, don’t lose weight. Get ample amounts of proteins, carbohydrates, and a healthy balance of the required amount of fats. Also, get the required dose of calcium and vitamin D.
- Maintain your menstrual calendar. If you are skipping your periods more often, you must see your doctor at the earliest. This could be an indication that your system is under extreme stress, or you are not getting the required amount of nutrition.
- Do not ignore minor injuries. If there is any sort of pain or ache in your body, report it to your doctor. Make sure it is thoroughly checked and medicines are given.