Sports Medicine
A Crucial Period
Good Pain, Bad Pain
On Your Knees
Secondary Injuries
Imaging Technology
What's Sciatica?
The Female Athlete
Putting Your Feet First
Itis Schmitis
Too Much, Too Soon
Under the Influence
What's Goin' On?
Think Inches, Not Pounds
Preventing Vaginitis
That Painful Pull
Athlete's Heart
Exercise & Arthritis
Chilled to the Bone
Measuring Body Fat
Exercise and Your Breasts
Choosing a Sports Doctor
Lean on Me (Shoulder)
Exercise & Anemia
Exercise Abuse
Pelvis Sighting
Hand Aid
It's All in the Wrist
Back in Action
Altitude Adjustment
Tennis Elbow, Anyone?
Exercising in the Heat
Agony of the Feet
Restless Legs
Night Time Cramps
Birth Control Concerns
No Periods, No Babies?
Post Partum Prescription
Weight Loss Mystery
Undesirable Cooldown
To Brew Or Not To Brew
Fitness After Baby
Biking and Back Pain
Swimmer's Shoulder
A Hidden Athlete
Avoiding Osteoporosis
Drug Testing
Maximum Heart Rate
Headway Against Headaches
Torn Rotator Cuff
Fat Figures
Bloody Urine
Sag Story
Lackluster Leg
Bothersome Bulge
Gaining in Years
Taking It On the Shin
Aching Ankles
Hoop Help
Tender Toes
Meals For Muscle
Growing Pains
Hot Tips
High Altitude PMS
Personal Bests
Air Pollution
Ankle Blues
Heartbreak Heel
Yeast Relief

No Periods, No Babies?

Q: I am a competitive runner in my mid-twenties and I haven't gotten my period in several years. Is this an effective method of birth control? Am I at risk of getting pregnant?

Santa Cruz, California

A: The condition you are referring to is called exercise-associated amenorrhea. It is a diagnosis of exclusion, so other causes, including pregnancy, must be ruled out before it can be made.

Many factors have been linked to the onset of exercise-associated amenorrhea. Women need a certain amount of calories, protein and body fat to maintain menstruation. Factors such as stress, weight loss, training intensity, history of irregular periods and a late menarche may make a woman more prone to stop ovulating.

The body stops ovulating and menstruating almost as a protective factor to guard against pregnancy during a time of physiological stress. Women more likely to develop amenorrhea are those who are young (under 25), have a late menarche, have never had children, are vegetarians, have weight loss associated with training and train intensely.

You need to be aware that exercise-associated amenorrhea is a very unreliable form of birth control. It is so unreliable that it shouldn't even be considered as a method. Any woman who develops this condition and is sexually active should continue to faithfully use a conventional method of birth control.

You cannot accurately predict when the next egg will be released into the Fallopian tubes, and thus you can get pregnant without having a period. This happened to Ingrid Kristiansen, the world record holder in the 5,000 meters, 10,000 meters and marathon.

She was well into her fourth month before she discovered she was pregnant. It worked out fine for her, but this may add serious complications for a woman who isn't ready to have a child.

However, is exercise-associated menorrhea a sign of peak conditioning?

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Table of Contents

Foreword: Billie Jean King

Comments by Barb Harris
Editor in Chief,
Shape Magazine

General Health
Common Medical Problems
Dental Health
Infectious Disease
Sexual Health
Emotional Well-Being
Eating Disorders
Alcohol & Other Drugs
Environmental Health

The information in this web site is for educational purposes only and is not providing medical or professional advice. It should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. If you have or suspect you might have any health problems, you should consult a physician.

Copyright 2000 - Sports Doctor, Inc.