Exercise and Menstruation

Here is a couple of common questions that I get from my female members concerning their menstrual cycles?

Does exercise help relieve dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation)?

Exercise has been shown to either cure or aggravate painful menstruation, but it has been shown to relieve menstrual cramps because of improved circulation to the uterus. Less severe menstrual cramps could also be related to increased levels of endorphines produced during prolonged physical activity, which may counteract pain.

Does exercise participation hinder menstruation?

In some instances, highly trained athletes may develop amenorrhea (cessation of menstruation) during training and competition. This condition is frequently  seen in extremely lean women who also engage in sports that require very strenuous physical effort over a sustained period of time, but is by no means irreversible. At present it is unknown whether the condition is caused by physical and/or emotional stress related to high-intensity training, excessively low body fat, or other factors.

Although, on the average, women have less physcial capacity during menstruation, medical surveys at the Olympic games have shown that women have broken Olympic and world records at all stages of the menstrual cycle. Menstruation should not keep a woman from participating in athletics, and it will not necessarily have a negative impact on performance. 

Daryl Conant, M.Ed

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