Running and Menstruation

Dear Doc D,

Isa lang ang tanong ko…Can I run even with my period?



Dear J.

Isa lang rin ang sagot ko…YES!

Several studies have been conducted on female athletes and there have been conflicting results.

Some investigators reveal that female athletes get more injuries and they tend to bleed more when they exercise or compete during their menses.

But there are even more researches concluding the exact opposite. Their data shows that exercise has NO EFFECT on injury or amount of bleeding. In fact, more tests reveal that exercise even decreases the amount of menstrual flow so that in elite female athletes, they even skip their periods during strenuous training. I have patients who are varsity players and they only get their period during summer vacation.

Female runners, like you J, are at risk of the Female Athlete Triad.

This happens in a female who becomes seriously engaged to her sport (yung addicted na sa running) that she begins to have: amenorrhea (irregular to absent menstruation), eating disorders (like anorexia or bulimia) and osteoporosis (bone loss).

This is observed in 10-15 % of regular athletes and 60-65 % of elite athletes.

Analysis of female athletes show that strenuous exercise decreases total body fat which is a source of peripheral estrogen. Estrogen controls the menstrual cycle, as well as, bone strength. If total body fat decreases to below 15 %, menstruation will stop and bones will weaken leading to fractures and injury.

This is not to discourage women from engaging in sports.

As a matter of fact, all investigations unanimously reveal that regular exercise has numerous benefits including relief of menstrual cramps or dysmenorrhea, decrease the occurrence of PMS or premenstrual syndrome, decreased risk for heart disease, breast cancer, diabetes and depression.

Go ahead! Run even when you have your period. Just make sure to do everything in moderation. Exercising three times a week at 30-45 minutes per session should be enough. Don’t over do it.

It is also advised to eat a balanced meal three times a day. Don’t starve yourself thinking that it will improve your performance. Your body needs to recover and rebuild after each bout of exercise.

Take a calcium supplement to strengthen your bones. Females as early as the age of 13 should start taking 1,200 mg of calcium per day for healthy bones. Don’t start when you’re 50, it’s too late by then. (Calciumade is Php 6.00/tablet at all Mercury outlets.)

I hope I answered your short question J.

See you at the finish line!



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