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DO GYMNASTS GET THEIR PERIODS?
Have you been wondering if gymnasts get their periods? Generally, sports that involve extreme physical exercise have been seen to hurt female participants. This negative effect is a result of the fierce training included in the competition, a case study of gymnastics. In gymnastics, the demand in practice and keeping the required bodyweight for the competition has exposed female participants to the risk of having gymnastic amenorrhea. The thin nature associated with gymnasts is also a result of the pressure coming from the judging system and the coaches.
The parents also have neglected the adverse effects associated with the stress they are putting the athletes because of their investments. Also, the coaches have contributed heavily to the increment of amenorrhea due to constant pressure on their students. An average athlete trains 40 hours in a week, which averages it to 8 hours per day, and makes a lot of elite female gymnasts amenorrheic.
<p style=”text-align: left;”>Many of them do not begin mensuration until they retire from the sports activities in their early 20s. The body of a gymnast requires a certain amount of calories to maintain all its primary systems buzzing along smoothly. The energy shortage activates a flow of hormonal effects which makes the body to subdue the sex hormone (estradiol). Lack of this hormone then cuts the communication between your brain and the procreative organs that triggers your period.
WHAT IS GYMNASTIC AMENORRHEA?
Gymnastic amenorrhea is a situation in gymnastics or sports in which a female participant misses her period for a minimum of three months. The consecutive missing of periods for three months is the secondary stage of amenorrhea, which is as a result of intense training. Some persons do not get theirs till they clock the age of sixteen.
The age sixteen is the required age that most girls start having their periods; it is also the primary stage of amenorrhea. This further increases the risk of having a “female athlete triad: a situation of having inadequate nutrition, low bone density, and amenorrhea.” Female athlete triad is a situation that causes low bone density, malnutrition, and missed periods. This triad is associated mostly with professional dancers and gymnasts.
According to statistics, the number of female athletes has increased enormously, which has left a more significant number of women with greater chances of having female athlete triads. Women with gymnastic amenorrhea frequently face tenacious metabolic difficulties. These difficulties come in the form of irregular energy disproportion due to increased energy usage.
This gave rise to the question, “Do gymnasts get their periods?”
THE CAUSES OF AMENORRHEA IN GYMNASTICS.
Exercise is an excellent way of improving health, but too much of it can have terrible side effects. The side effects include but not limited to the number of activities but some designated exercises that require specific commitment in terms of training and competition. These exercises are
and LONG-DISTANCE RACERS
Intensive exercise has gone a long way in reducing the actions of hormones that trigger ovulation in women. These hormones are estrogen and progesterone. The presence of estrogen and progesterone has a great connection with the sound health of an athlete. These hormones are essential for sexual growth and procreative activities. The lack of estrogen happens to professional athletes during their training schedules and increases with competition around the corner which increases the stress, discomfort, and inadequate nutrition.
This intense exercise leads to loss of body weight which is a result of pressure to meet up with the thin nature that is required in gymnastics. Inadequate nutrition can also cause a deficiency of minerals in the body, vitamins, and body weight loss, which exposes them to a greater chance of fractures, eating disarrays.
More so, excessive exercise can cause infertility in female gymnasts, heart attacks that can lead to heart failure, weakening of the breast, and weakening of vaginal activities. According to research, about 25% of professional female athletes have been reported to have missing periods. The loss of the period is more in the group that involves long-distance runners, gymnasts, and ballets.
Due to the pressure of the thin nature required in gymnastics, a lot of professional female athletes have developed eating disorders, these disorders have led to starvation among professional athletes. Sometimes, the athletes take a lot of food at a time, which can result in purging and vomiting. Insufficient diet in gymnastics can affect the procreation-related hormones from the hypothalamus: the glands that regulate the function of the body.
There can be up to 2 or 3 bone percentage loss per year if amenorrhea is left untreated. The pressure from the parents and couches of the athletes, also contribute to the amenorrhea as the athletes try to meet up with the expectations of the parents and coaches.
THE SYMPTOMS AND SIDE EFFECTS OF AMENORRHEA
- This provides answers to the frequently asked question, “do gymnasts get their periods.”
Amenorrhea can lead to a bigger risk of heart failure/attack, which can increase the problem of bone splintering. It increases stress which further impacts the thinness of the body.
Amenorrhea causes eating disorders in gymnasts. Sometimes, eating disorders can make one take a lot at a time which can cause purging or vomiting.
- The lack of estrogen in the body can lead to a deficiency of calcium, also known as hypocalcemia in the bones, thereby causing dental changes, cataracts, alteration in the brain, and more. The estrogen is affected by the beta-endorphins and catecholamine, which is the body releases during exercise. It is an anti-estrogen.
Ovulatory dysfunction is a risk that is common among female athletes.
A situation called osteoporosis can occur due to a lack of estrogen leading to fragile and weak bones.
- Exercise-prompted amenorrhea can have a severe effect on the reproductive hormones. This effect causes the female athlete to be estrogen-deficient, leading to infertility, thinning, vaginal dryness, and breast shrinkage. The shrinkage of the breast increases the risk of having breast cancer.
- Gymnastics can also affect the growth in height and weight of a gymnast, and proper measure is necessary to prevent amenorrhea.
The frequency of injury is very high in gymnastics, which even gets worse when accompanied by dieting.
- The low level of fat associated with the female athletes has increased the risk of having amenorrhea as the female body cannot menstruate below a particular benchmark of the body fat.
When amenorrhea is present, there is an increased rate of barrenness. This infertility makes it difficult for a lady to get pregnant except when regular menstruation of the body is brought to complete restoration.
- There is an increased level of cholesterol as a result of the suppression of the estrogen in the body.
There is an increased rate of premature aging; this is as a result of low estrogen in the body. This low estrogen causes the skin to lose its flexibility.
Sometimes, the female athletes see their periods, but it usually comes with long-term pain from the beginning to the end of the mensuration. This menstrual pain induces emotional, mental, and physical illness, which sometimes leads to some athletes giving up on their careers. The excessive strain on these gymnasts’ bodies has made it possible for general body breakdown. These breakdowns could be mental, emotional, which may affect the hypothalamus.
Also, high weight loss in gymnastics often results in poor performance. This weight loss makes it easier for an athlete who is neither thin nor heavy to perform better than a skinny athlete.
According to research, differences in genetic makeup and hormonal responses can determine whether a female athlete is likely to miss her period or not. There is also more danger of circulatory difficulties, which includes heart attacks later in the future with high cholesterol.
HOW TO TREAT AMENORRHEA
Exercise does not have to be extreme all the time. You must put yourself to check once you miss a period to know if you are infected or have amenorrhea.
There are many ways that one can cure exercise-induced amenorrhea, and some of those ways include:
A well-conducted test by a professional health provider to ascertain the root cause of the problem.
There should a pregnancy test as pregnancy is one of the reasons people miss periods.
The eating disorderliness can be taken care of by merely maintaining a perfect eating pattern that allows your body to consume the required calories to function correctly.
The rate of exercise can also be minimized to reduce the effect of amenorrhea.
Birth control pills can also help in restoring periods.
A balanced diet should be of high priority.
Choosing a sport that is not as intense as gymnastics or other related sports might help reduce the risk of getting amenorrhea.
It would be necessary to involve professionals such as physicians, nutritionists, mental health professionals who can provide the required advice on dieting and other health-related issues.
Ensure that your diets have enough calcium in it. A calcium intake of at least 1,500 mg every day is essential to prevent the bone from losing density. This calcium intake will help the athlete to remain healthy during training and competition. Taking a calcium supplement can also solve the problem of calcium deficiency.
A complete pelvic and physical examination is essential.
Constant check of the hormonal level in the body will help you reduce the risk of getting amenorrhea.
In related cases, estrogen replacement therapy is essential with a low-dose oral contraceptive.
A gymnast stands a risk of having low body fat. This low fat can be put to check by frequent eating, consumption of milk, adding cream to coffee, and getting a sound and quality sleep.
Health professionals have advised that treating this amenorrhea can reduce the risk of having a life-threatening illness. Excessive exercise does not only cause amenorrhea, but it can also slow the functions of your immune system. The slow communication of your immune system can make you sick all the time. Amenorrhea, when left unchecked, can cause your heart rate and blood pressure.
The video below explains the causes of Amenorrhea and tips on how to get your period back.