Can Over-Exercising and Healthy Eating Delay Your Period?

Exercise can affect menstrual cycles in some girls.
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Different factors can cause a delay in menstruation in women. Average girls begin menstruating at the age of 12. However, some girls begin as young as 8 years or as late as 16 years. If a girl has not begun to menstruate by the time she is 16, she should consult her physician to determine the cause. Exercise and diet play a role in the menstruation cycle.


Menstruation is the monthly shedding of the uterine lining by women who are of childbearing years. Amenorrhea is the clinical term for the absence of menstruation. For women who have already begun menstruating, the condition occurs if they miss at least three periods in row. Girls who have not started menstruating by the age of 16 also have amenorrhea. The most common cause of amenorrhea is pregnancy. Other causes include problems with the reproductive organs or hormonal imbalance.


Weight can play a role in delaying your period if you are excessively underweight. Girls with an eating disorder may not have a normal menstruation cycle. If your weight is too low and cannot maintain a pregnancy, your reproductive system will shut down, according to John Hopkins Medicine. Figuring out your Body Mass Index, or BMI, can help you determine if you are underweight. If your BMI is below 18.5, you are underweight and this could be the cause for a delay in menstruation.


Excessive exercise can contribute to amenorrhea. If you participate in a sport that has demanding training, such as long-distance running, ballet or swimming, it could delay your menstruation cycle. Exercise-induced amenorrhea affects approximately 5 to 25 percent of female athletes, according to an article in June 1999 issue of “The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.” Researchers believe that exercise affects the release of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) in some women. Girls who exercise heavily at a young age may not have a menstrual cycle until their early 20s.


Healthy eating should not affect your menstrual cycle. However, if you are not getting your necessary nutrients from your diet, you could delay your period. Eat a balanced diet with enough calories to help your body grow and develop. An adolescent girl should consume 1,800 to 2,400 calories per day. Make sure your diet includes protein and plenty of fruits and vegetables. If you are unsure what to include in your diet, talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian for guidance.

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