Female athletes experience a high incidence of menstrual abnormalities. This has critical health consequences because amenorrhea athletes are at greater risk of developing osteopenia and bone injury compared to normally menstruating athletes or nonathletic normally cycling females. Female performers and athletes are also at risk for developing disordered eating behaviors. There appears to be a connection between menstrual dysfunction, athletic training, and disordered eating, but how they relate is not fully understood. In this paper we explore how low calorie intakes, nutritional inadequacies, vegetarianism, low body fat stores, and specific training behaviors may contribute to the abnormal menstrual patterns seen in this population. Recommendations for the detection and prevention of eating and training problems and consequent menstrual abnormalities are included.
J.E. Benson is with the Department of Ontological Sciences, K.A. Engelbert-Fenton is with the Division of Foods and Nutrition, and P.A. Eisenman iswith the Department of Exercise and Sports Sciences, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 841 12.