Menstrual Cycle Abnormalities in Healthy Women With Low Physical Activity: The North-Trøndelag Population-based Health Study

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background:

Menstrual dysfunctions are often found in athletic women. This study evaluated the association between leisure time physical activity (LTPA) and menstrual function in healthy nonathletic women.

Methods:

During 1984–1986, a populationbased health survey (HUNT 1) was conducted in Nord-Trøndelag, Norway, with follow-up (HUNT 2) in 1995–1997. Women < 45 years old in HUNT 2 were included in the current study. LTPA was assessed by questionnaire in HUNT 1 and HUNT 2, and menstrual function by questionnaire in HUNT 2.

Results:

Adjusted odds ratios (OR’s) for long cycles were increased in women who reported < 1 hour of light LTPA (OR = 1.4, 95% CI = 1.0–2.0) and 1–2 hours (OR = 1.3, 95% CI = 1.0–1.8) per week compared with women with ≥ 3 hours/week. Adjusted OR for irregular cycles was decreased in women constantly in the lowest tertile of LTPA index in HUNT 1 and HUNT 2 (OR = 0.4, 95% CI = 0.2–0.9). Adjusted OR for prolonged bleeding was 2.6 (95% CI = 1.3–5.4) for women with < 1 hour/week of light LTPA and 2.3 (95% CI = 1.3–4.3) for women with 1–2 hours, compared with ≥ 3 hours/week.

Conclusions:

Very low physical activity may increase the risk of menstrual cycle disruptions. Moderate PA should be encouraged for optimum reproductive health.

Gudmundsdottir (slg@hi.is) and Augestad are with the Dept of Human Movement Science, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway. Flanders is with the Depts of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Emory University, Atlanta, GA.