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Any Female Runners out there who still get their periods?


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I'm an avid runner (I like to jog for about 6-7 miles daily) and I've been gaining weight to try and get to healthier one (I'm about 109 aiming for 115) because I've had ammenorhea for about 3 years.  Lately I've been wondering if its at all possible to regain periods while remaining a consistent runner, if I should just reduce my miles, if I should stop completely, etc.  Also I'm curious if anyone has experienced getting up to a healthy weight while still runnning, but still losing their periods anyway.  Any advice is appreciated. 

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As I don't know your height, I don't know if 115 lbs equates to a BMI of 20 or not. However, a BMI of 20 is usually what is required to restore a regular menstrual cycle for most women.

You should stop completely and focus on weight restoration up to a BMI of 20. Having already had amenorrhea for three years, the damage to your skeletal structure is significant.

I am sure that you love running and the very sad irony will be that you will find yourself incapable of running at all fairly soon once you develop full-blown osteoporosis as a result of amenorrhea and being underweight.

You are a distance runner (defined as 6 miles or more in a single run and 20-30 (or more) miles in a week). Distance runners are more prone to developing exercise addiction than other athletes.

In the URL below at the end of the document you'll find an exercise addiction inventory quickie quiz. The rest of the document is just proving that the quiz is an accurate way to detect whether someone has exercise addiction:

http://www.hawaii.edu/hivandaids/The_Exercise _Addiction_Inve ntory__A_New_Brief_Screening_Tool.pdf

The EAI cut-off score for individuals considered at-risk of exercise addiction is 24.

I include this quiz because it may be at the root of why you have not stopped running in the past three years despite having received clear warning from your body that you must attend to regaining healthy fat stores ASAP.

I am a distance runner and score 17 on the above EAI. My BMI is 20 and I maintain my weight so that my menstrual cycle is regular and my bone density is healthy. My daily calorie intake is 2200-2400 and will reach 3000 about once a week -- oops I got that wrong. I don't count calories anymore, but looking back at my actual counts, it's 2400-2600 daily and up to 3000 about once a week. I'm 5'4 and 123 lbs, as a comparison for you.

Were I to lose my period, then I would stop running because I know that I'm close enough to being clinically addicted to running that I would not likely be successful at reducing the miles or frequency of my runs. Perhaps it is the same with you.

I'm a runner, weight restored, no period yet. No period on my own for 5 years almost.

I'd like to know the same thing...

But 6-7 miles daily is a lot.

I'm sorry, but this is an issue that really concerns me. SO MANY girls on my Cross Country team talk about how they have no periods, yet fail to believe it's harmful. And they're doctors agree that not menstruating is OK, too, since they're athletes. Ugh. SO. NOT. TRUE.

I run Varsity Cross Country and Track. Additionally, I'm a competitive, Elite Irish Dancer. These activities are very demanding. However, I meet these demands by consuming 3500 calories daily to maintain my weight. And by no means, am I a large person... very tiny and slim! I do get my period though, because my body is at the appropriate weight for my specicific body type. Also, my energy balance is appropriate for my activity level.

When you are not menstruating, you are putting yourself at risk oof osteoporosis. Your body isn't producing enough estrogen, which is needed to absorb adequate calcium. Hence, menopausal women suffer from decreased bone density.

Lack of periods are a matter of energy balance complications. If someone is naturally thin and very active, they can STILL MENSTRUATE IF THEY EAT ENOUGH. However, if someone isn't providing their body with the proper nutrients (calories, fats, proteins, carbs) to compensate for their activity level, then ammenoreah sets in.

I know that I might get alot of flack from saying this, but you can't always go by BMI with these manors, too. My doctor actually goes by growth chart patterns, that is, if you're under the age of 20. http://pediatrics.about.com/cs/usefultools/l/ bl_percentiles.htm

This is an example of a growth chart. You plot your weight on the appropriate percentile, and follow that percentile as you continue to age. That way, your weight will stay along the same curve, allowing for growth and such. Like I've always been on the 10th-15th percentile for weight, so I follow that percentile, even as I age.

Ok, I'm deffinetly into a full-fledge ramble now! Sorry haha. But to answer the original question, it is DEFFINETLY possible, and reccomended, for people, even athletes, to menstruate. http://www.nancyclarkrd.com/ Nancy Clark has some great information on the topic.

I hope that everythign works out for you!

Hey Kate--

I run about 6-7 miles a day..sme as you.  I run D1 crosscountry and track, and I have not gotten my period in about 7 months..before then it was once every 4ish months.

I am at a very healthy body weight (5'9", 140lbs), and I still do not get my period.  I think I may have to go on birth control because I want to have kids later in life and stuff and not worry about osteperosis.

I am meeting with the obgyn soon and I will let you know what she says.  Also, my coach wants me to loose about 10 pounds.  Being 130 pounds is completely normal, and most of my teammates weigh around 120.  I think I could lose 5-10 pounds, and have been trying to for awhile, but nothing seems to be working!  I am fairly thin right now, and I have already lost about 8 pounds and you could barely even notice.  Thus I know 8 pounds more will only be slightly noticeable, which is a good thing.

Please elt me know if anyone has any ideas on how to eat better, for I've got the whole exercise thing down pat.  I probably eat around 2000 calories a day with the running..so I should be loosing weight..maybe I have a very slow metabolism??

someoneee help :)

Thanks for the replies everybody.  I'm going to take that quiz after I send this, but I just thought I'd say to SOCCERFLASH that since you're being young, tall (5'9") and very active, 2000 is probably too low of an intake for you, even if you're trying to lose weight.  I'm about only about 5'5" and when I would eat 2000 or less my muscles would ache more often and I would fatigue much quicker.  I don't know how many calories I consume now (I'm recovering from an ED and figured it would be helpful) but I'm sure I eat well over 2000 (probably closer to 3000 range) because I checked on a teen calorie burn calculator and it said that even at my average height and low weight, I still need at least 2700 just to maintain my weight.  Try out 2400 or maybe a little more.  Sometimes a boost in calories during weight loss can speed up the proccess b/c it fires up the metabolism.

Anyway, thanks again everyone for your input :)  

Many scientists and experts believe that 17% body fat is required to menstruate.

I've never lost my period and I run more than you and swim, bike and lift as well.

Original Post by ambereva:

I've never lost my period and I run more than you and swim, bike and lift as well.

 Just curious, do you know what your % body fat is?

Original Post by moikki:

Original Post by ambereva:

I've never lost my period and I run more than you and swim, bike and lift as well.

 Just curious, do you know what your % body fat is?

Yes, it hovers in the 19-20% range most of the year.

Original Post by ambereva:

Original Post by moikki:

Original Post by ambereva:

I've never lost my period and I run more than you and swim, bike and lift as well.

 Just curious, do you know what your % body fat is?

Yes, it hovers in the 19-20% range most of the year.

 According to what I was taught, that would make sence that you would have a period, being above 17%. You must really make sure you get your cals., that's good! Keep kick'n ass!

Original Post by moikki:

Original Post by ambereva:

Original Post by moikki:

Original Post by ambereva:

I've never lost my period and I run more than you and swim, bike and lift as well.

 Just curious, do you know what your % body fat is?

Yes, it hovers in the 19-20% range most of the year.

 According to what I was taught, that would make sence that you would have a period, being above 17%. You must really make sure you get your cals., that's good! Keep kick'n ass!

Getting enough calories has never been a challenge for me! Laughing

OH. MY. GOSH.

I'm in the same boat and although I don't spare it much thought because, lets face it, its pretty convenient, I AM beginning to get worried. I had NO idea that this is actually a totally common thing. NO idea. Wow.

Yep. I'd also recommend eating more fats , that's what I heard many times on CC, and what my own endocrinologist told me to do. but she said it's the SATURATED fats that mattered. 

Also, while I've only been running 6 miles a day/5 days a week for a month or so, I was doing other types of cardio and weight training before this. Also no period for 2 years, and I just found out I have osteopenia. 

You've had amenorrhea for even longer than me, and have been running more as well. So you might even have osteoporosis at this point since you're STILL not at a healthy weight. I'm at 23 BMI and I still have these problems.

So at this point you'd probably be better off stopping completely if you think you won't be able to lower your mileage to about 3 miles. Or better yet, walk at an incline for those 3 miles. Your bones are probably really suffering, and although without a doctor's visit and a bone-density test you cant really know for sure, before you get checked it's probably best to be on the safe side and LAY LOW.

Because just like a previous post said, in 10 years you may find yourself with difficulty walking distances, much less running, because of damage you unknowingly caused now.

I found this article few months ago:

Athletic women are generally looked upon as being fit and healthy. But a look from the inside out shows a different story. Approximately 20% of active women are unhealthy to the point they stop having regular menstrual periods. This condition is called amenorrhea and is characterized by estrogen deficiency, similar to menopause

Although some women deem amenorrhea as a desirable side effect of exercise because they no longer have to deal with the hassles and possible discomfort of monthly menstrual periods, others recognize absence of periods is linked with health problems: loss of calcium from the bones; almost a three times higher incidence of stress fractures (24% of athletes with no or irregular periods experience stress fractures as compared to only 9% of regularly menstruating athletes); long-term problems with osteoporosis starting at an early age. Amenorrhea can also interfere with the ability to conceive easily should the athlete want to start a family. 

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Causes of amenorrhea 

Many women believe they have stopped menstruating because they are exercising too much. Not the case. Many very thin athletes who exercise very heavily have regular menses. Other women believe they have stopped menstruating because they are too thin. Also false. Studies suggest no differences in body fatness between athletic women who do and do not menstruate regularly. 

The question remains unanswered: Why, given a group of women who have similar exercise programs and a low percent body fat, do some experience menstrual problems and others don't? The answer commonly relates to nutrition. The woman with amenorrhea may be striving to maintain a weight lower than what is appropriate for her genetics. When the cost of achieving this desired leanness is inadequate nutrition, she'll stop menstruating. 

 

Prevalence of amenorrhea 

Although amenorrhea is not sport-specific, sports with the highest prevalence include ballet (19 to 44% of dancers) and competitive running (24 to 26% of runners). An estimated 3 to 5% of sedentary women also experience menstrual irregularity; this is strikingly less than what prevails among athletic women. 

You are more likely to become amenorrheic if you have lost weight quickly, have a low body weight, low percent body fat, exercise very hard, had irregular menstrual periods even before you started to train hard, are feeling emotionally stressed, and have a restrictive diet.


Amenorrhea and anorexia 

Although amenorrhea exists among women with no eating disorders, loss of menses is certainly a red flag symptomatic of restrictive, anorectic type eating behaviors. The American Psychiatric Association's definition of anorexia lists "absence of at least three consecutive menstrual cycles" among the criteria. Other criteria include: weight loss 15% below that expected, intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat, and distorted body image (i.e., claiming to feel fat even when emaciated), all of which are concerns common to female athletes. 

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Resolving the problem 

If you feel as though you are struggling to balance food and exercise, you might want to seek counseling from a trusted physician, dietitian and/or counselor. The possible changes required to resume menses include exercising 5 to 15% less and eating a little more. If you totally stop training, such as may happen if you are injured, you may get your period within a few months. Some amenorrheic athletes have resumed menses by simply exercising less and gaining no weight or less than 5 pounds. This small amount of weight gain is enough to achieve better health yet does not result in your "getting fat". 


T
he following tips may also help you resume menses - or at least rule out nutrition-related factors.

1. Throw away the bathroom scale. Rather than striving to achieve a certain number on the scale, let your body weigh what it weighs. 

2. If you have weight to lose, don't crash diet but rather moderately cut back on calories by about 20%. You are eating too few calories if you are always hungry and obsessing about food. 

3. Eat adequate protein. Amenorrheic athletes tend to eat less protein than their regularly menstruating counterparts. Even if you are a vegetarian, remember that you still need adequate protein. Eat additional yogurt, fish, beans, tofu and nuts. 

4. Eat at least 20% of your calories from fat. If you believe you will get fat if you eat fat, think again. Although excess calories from fat are easily fattening, some fat (20-30% of total calories; 40-60+ grams fat/day) is an appropriate part of a healthy sports diet. Nuts, peanut butter, salmon, olive oil are healthful choices. 

5. Include small portions of red meat 2 to 3 times per week. Surveys suggest runners with amenorrhea tend to eat less red meat and are more likely to follow a vegetarian diet than their regularly menstruating counterparts. Even in the general population, vegetarian women are five times more likely to have menstrual problems than meat eaters. It's unclear why meat seems to have a protective effect upon menses. 

7. Maintain a calcium-rich diet to help maintain bone density. A safe target is the equivalent of 3 to 4 servings per day of low fat milk, yogurt and other calcium-rich foods. Being athletic, your bones benefit from the protective effect of exercise, but this does not compensate for lack of calcium nor lack of estrogen

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Is there long term damage? 

Amenorrheic women who resume menses can restore some but not all of the bone density lost during their months of amenorrhea. Hence, their goal should be to minimize the damages of amenorrhea by eating appropriately and taking the proper steps to resolve the problem. Every woman always wins with good nutrition!

Hope it might help :) // <![CDATA[ document.write("<br> "); document.write(""); document.write("Did you enjoy this article? Then click here and suggest it to a friend!"); document.write(""); document.write("
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I just happened upon this post and felt the need to give this warning: I am not super thin nor do I run a lot (just a little). But my partner is very thin (about 105 lbs, 5'5") and, when I met her, ran 6-7 miles 4-5 times per week. I don't know what her BMI was but soon after we started dating, she began to have severe hip pain, saw a doctor, and discovered that she was osteopenic and had a FRACTURED hip. She had had amenorrhea for years and had no idea what she was doing to her bone density. The fracture came from running with reduced bone density. It took three and a half months of crutches (mostly non-weight bearing) for her hip to heal. She was lucky that she didn't have to have surgery. It was a nightmare. Her orthopedic specialist had seen a few young women (she was 30 then) with hip fractures for the very same reason.

She doesn't run anymore. Her periods returned immediately after she stopped (she also probably started eating more fat because I cook a lot and she had previously been eating like a frickin' bird) and she's had them ever since. She continues to stay fit with walking and yoga. 

Just thought I'd post this since her life was turned UPSIDE DOWN by the broken hip and I'd hate for anyone else to experience the same. 

My God, I have had the SAME issue. Three years and no period, but i was a compulsive exerciser (who restricted calories) through no dairy, no meat, and basically only vegetables. Ammenorrea is VERY BAD for you. I LOVE LOVE LOVE to work out, but I want to get pregnant some day. i cut my cardio from 1.5 hours a day to 40 minutes a day and have been eating meat, dairy, and substantial food. I have done this for a couple of month snow-still no period. i am worried it'll never get back. What is your diet like? Do you have cervical musus at all? Lack of mucus down there usually means your estrogen is low.  Low estrogen=no period. It's comforting to see that someone out there has my same issue

Mine is at 13%.....maybe that's why I haven't for 3 years. I don't look to thin...I'm at 145lb at 5'9. I have gained 10 lbs but my body fat is still the same as when I was 135.

I went through this as well, I didn't have my period for about a year, then I got a stress fracture in my leg, so I had to go from running 30 miles per week to biking, and eliptical, and lifting weights.  I actually gained 5 lbs of muscle and my bodyfat went down 2% (putting me at 17%, i was at 19% before when i wasnt having periods). 

My period came back in the end of august.  I started running again and I got my period again last week, so it skipped a month).  I am hoping it stays, even if it is irregular. 

I honestly think it was the decrease in running and the increase in my weight.  I don't think you have to let yourself get "fat", but it does suck to decrease your mileage.  For avid runners, I would def. say it makes sense to have an "off" season and rest the body a bit, or just do different things.  Possibly try weight training to gain some weight.

Hi everyone, Unfortunately the BMI and scale only tell half the story. I am 5'9 and lost my period when I went UNDER 145lb. I was doing at least an hour of cardio a day. My BMI is over 20 YET I had my body fat tested very recently and it's at 13% at 145lb. It was also at 13% at my lowest which was 129lb.

 

So, case and point, the body sees intense ongoing physical activity as stressing to the body. Of course if you are running 6-7 miles a day, it would NOT be a good time to get pregnant. How is your energy levels?

I was EXHAUSTED all the time from lifting weights and cardio, etc. I know, it is sooooo hard to NOT KNOW what is causing the lack of periods. I feel for you....I know how hard it is to wait for something day and and day out....hoping it'll come.....crying when it doesn't.....thinking every cramp and twindge in there might be it. There is strength in numbers,

Original Post by kickitinthebutt:

Hi everyone, Unfortunately the BMI and scale only tell half the story. I am 5'9 and lost my period when I went UNDER 145lb. I was doing at least an hour of cardio a day. My BMI is over 20 YET I had my body fat tested very recently and it's at 13% at 145lb. It was also at 13% at my lowest which was 129lb.

 

So, case and point, the body sees intense ongoing physical activity as stressing to the body. Of course if you are running 6-7 miles a day, it would NOT be a good time to get pregnant. How is your energy levels?

I was EXHAUSTED all the time from lifting weights and cardio, etc. I know, it is sooooo hard to NOT KNOW what is causing the lack of periods. I feel for you....I know how hard it is to wait for something day and and day out....hoping it'll come.....crying when it doesn't.....thinking every cramp and twindge in there might be it. There is strength in numbers,

 It sounds to me like you know exactly what the cause is, just say'n :/

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