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J Endocrinol Invest. 2001 Nov;24(10):823-32.

Exercise-related female reproductive dysfunction.

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  • 1Department of Medicine and Pharmacology, Section of Endocrinology, University of Messina, Italy.


Clinical or biochemical abnormalities of gonadal function, consisting of delayed puberty, luteal phase deficiency, oligo-amenorrhea or anovulation, occur in girls and women participating in strenuous sports. The evidence of a causal relationship between athletic activity and menstrual dysfunction has led to increased interest, also because the number of women who practice sports has increased rapidly. The pathogenesis of exercise-related female reproductive dysfunction (ERFRD) is not completely clarified. The heterogeneity of sports practice, the role of overtraining and other factors, as adequate calorie balance or the assumption of exogenous steroids, could play a primary role in the comprehension of the pathogenic mechanisms of reproductive dysfunction. The interest of physicians about ERFRD is also due to the consequences of reduced gonadal function on women's health. Apart from some short-term transient effects (i.e. on muscle, genito-urinary tract or behavior), hypoestrogenemia can induce long-term deleterious effects, as premature osteoporosis and lifelong impairment of skeletal structure. In view of the possible short-term (infertility) and long-term (osteoporosis) consequences of ERFRD, correct physical training and adequate diet approach are mandatory to prevent or to revert neuroendocrine abnormalities so frequently reported in girls and women participating in recreational or competitive athletic activities.

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