Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


New findings on menstrual disorders in elite athletes

It has long been assumed that menstrual disorders amongst elite female athletes are related to tough training regimes combined with insufficient energy intake.

However, a new doctoral thesis from the Swedish medical university Karolinska Institutet overturns old ideas that elite sport can damage the health. Many elite female athletes can have a congenital condition, that gives them higher levels of testosterone and that might even contribute to their sporting successes.

“What we’re dealing with is just a tiny increase in levels, which can make it easier for the women to build muscle mass and absorb oxygen,” says Magnus Hagmar, postgraduate at the Department of Woman and Child Health. “This means that they might have got quicker results from their training and therefore been encouraged to train harder and more often.”

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common and congenital cause of menstrual disorder that, amongst other things, can lead to a slight increase in testosterone production. Magnus Hagmar now shows in his thesis not only that PCOS is often behind menstrual disorders in elite Olympic athletes, but also that polycystic ovaries – part of PCOS – were more common amongst elite Olympic athletes (37 per cent) than amongst women on average (20 per cent).

“It’s particularly interesting that the percentage of women with polycystic ovaries was higher in power sports like ice hockey and wrestling than in technical sports like archery and curling,” says Dr Hagmar.

Dr Hagmar stresses that the results have nothing to do with doping. The 90 elite athletes that took part in the study have taken regular drug tests, all of them negative. He believes that the studies overturn old notions that female sporting performance can damage the health.

A central issue in elite-level women’s sport in recent years has been the ‘female athlete triad’, whereby tough training combined with low energy intake has been thought to contribute to menstrual disorder and subsequent low bone density (osteopenia) caused by low levels of oestrogen. However, this new study now shows that elite female athletes, despite menstrual disorders, have very strong bones. In sports where low body-weight is an advantage, women also generally have a healthier way of controlling their weight than their male counterparts.

“We cannot completely rule out low energy intake as a cause of menstrual disorder in elite athletes, there were one case in these studies too, but it is far from the most common cause,” says Mr Hagmar. “The fact that not a single woman had low bone density takes away one of the factors of the female athlete triad.”

Magnus Hagmar is assistant senior physician at the women’s clinic at Karolinska University Hospital, in Stockholm, and carried out his studies in association with the Swedish Olympic Committee (SOC). One of the studies involved 223 men and women who had competed in the 2002 and 2004 Olympic Games. Another involved 90 women, all of whom are in training for the 2008 Olympics.

Doctoral thesis: ‘Menstrual status and long-term cardiovascular effects of intense exercise in top elite athlete women’, Magnus Hagmar, Department of Woman and Child Health. The public defence will take place in Stockholm on Friday 18 April 2008.

Katarina Sternudd | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Diagnoses: When Are Several Opinions Better Than One?
19.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht High in calories and low in nutrients when adolescents share pictures of food online
07.04.2016 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

How nanoscience will improve our health and lives in the coming years

27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

OU-led team discovers rare, newborn tri-star system using ALMA

27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>