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Compulsive Exercise Linked to Irregular Periods

Irregular periods can be a sign of many different issues such as stress, lack of appetite and weight gain or loss. However, many women are not aware that compulsive exercise is also linked to irregular periods. If women exercise excessively, they may easily experience irregular periods. This can affect athletes and women who are anorexic.

What Are Irregular Periods?

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It is very common for menopausal women to experience irregular periods because these are usually the first sign of the onset of menopause. The average menstrual cycle lasts about 28 days; however, it is normal for a woman's cycle to deviate by a few days. Those with irregular periods may menstruate once every two months and some may go six months without menstruation.

How Does Compulsive Exercise Cause Irregular Periods?

Compulsive exercise and irregular periods are linked because the menstrual cycle relies heavily on the balance of hormones. Irregular periods can occur when women exercise too much and as a result, change their hormonal balance. For example, excessive exercising can result in estrogen dominance, which then means that women experience irregular periods. This is because the process of menstruation is dependent upon the presence of progesterone. If women do not have enough progesterone in their system, they will not menstruate. As a consequence, they will experience irregular periods.

How Can I Prevent Compulsive Exercise?

Although exercise is necessary to maintaining optimum health, women should monitor how regularly and to what extent they exercise. It is recommended to engage in moderate workouts. Ideally women should exercise for half an hour a day, five times a week.

There are other healthy lifestyle tips that women can follow in order to regulate their periods, for example:

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  • Eat a healthy and nutritious diet
  • Drink eight glasses of water a day
  • Drink antioxidant beverages like green tea
  • Sleep 7 to 8 hours a night
  • Limit alcohol consumption
  • Don't smoke

It is said that to menstruate, a woman must have at least 22% body fat. Women who exercise excessively often have a lower percentage of body fat and can therefore interrupt the hormonal balance. As a result, women may have irregular periods. To maintain a healthy weight, hormone balance, and regular menstrual cycles, women should monitor how much they exercise and maintain a well-balanced diet.

Long Menstrual Cycles

Long menstrual cycles can be frustrating, and are commonly experienced by women going through menopause. Click here to learn more.

Irregular Periods in Young Women

As the body adjusts to new levels of hormones during puberty, a young woman may find that her period is inconsistent. Learn more here.

Irregular Periods: When Will They Stop?

Irregular periods are a common symptom of menopause. They typically stop after the menopause transition, but bleeding may occur after.

Sources:
  • Hutchinson, Susan M.D. "The Stages of a Woman's Life: Menstruation, Pregnancy, Nursing, Perimenopause, Menopause". November 2007.
  • Love, Susan M.D. Menopause and Hormone Book. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2003.
  • BMJ Group. "Menopause: What is it?" Patient Leaflet. 2007