Sports Medicine

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 190–199 | Cite as

Reproduction for the Athletic Woman

New Understandings of Physiology and Management
  • Jerilynn C. Prior
  • Yvette M. Vigna
  • Donald W. McKay
Review Article


A physically active and athletic lifestyle is not only a healthy but a fulfilling choice for women. Although there is extensive literature on ‚athletic amenorrhoea’ which implies that exercise causes loss of the menstrual cycle, there is inadequate scientific evidence for a causal relationship. The reproductive system adapts to environmental, nutritional, emotional and physical stressors or ‚threats’ by downward adjustment towards the premenarcheal pattern. The hormonal milieu of this adaptation is low gonadal steroid and high glucocorticoid levels which synergistically increase the risk for a negative bone balance. Athletic women may become amenorrhoeic if reproductive immaturity, emotional stress and undernutrition coexist with increasing exercise loads.

Treatment for athletic women with menstrual cycle changes requires that hypothalamic stressors be identified and decreased. In addition, as progesterone deficiency (from disorders of ovulation, whether flow is regular or absent) is the most prevalent menstrual cycle change, treatment with medroxyprogesterone on days 16 to 25 of their cycle will not only provide regular flow (if estrogen levels are sufficient) but will also promote increased bone density.


Menstrual Cycle Medroxyprogesterone Premenstrual Symptom Menstrual Flow Luteinising Hormone Pulse 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Adis International Limited 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jerilynn C. Prior
    • 1
  • Yvette M. Vigna
    • 1
  • Donald W. McKay
    • 1
  1. 1.Endocrinology and MetabolismUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

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