Estrogen replacement therapy and female athletes: Current issues
ABSTRACT Physicians commonly recommend estrogen replacement as treatment for exercise-associated amenorrhoea. While the evidence shows that the basis of the amenorrhoea is estrogen deficiency, it is not clear that it is the only factor in the development of lowered bone density found in oligo-amenorrhoeic female athletes. Nutritional factors, significant in the development of the reproductive dysfunction, could also contribute to bone loss. No randomised, controlled studies of estrogen replacement in athletes have been published. However, one nonrandomised study of a small group of athletes does suggest that there are significant gains in bone density to be made by the initiation of estrogen therapy. More research is clearly needed.
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ABSTRACT: There is a lack of knowledge regarding the effects of estrogens on physical performance. This is related, in part, to the challenge of isolating the effects of estrogens from those of progestins, because levels of both hormones fluctuate across the menstrual cycle, both decline during the menopausal transition, and the administration oh hormones to hypogonadal women typically involves a combination of estrogens and progestins. Some research findings suggest that fluctuations in estrogen levels acutely influence factors that may affect physical performance, such as substrate utilization or maximal aerobic power, but solid evidence is lacking. The simple observation that hypogonadism is not uncommon among elite athletes in some sports suggests that estrogen deficiency does not have a major negative impact on athletic performance. However, chronic hypogonadism may ultimately lead to impaired performance by menas that are not necessarily obvious. For example, chronic estrogen deficiency has potent, deleterious effects on the skeleton that can increase risk for stress fracture and may limit the ability to sustain a high level of physical training. Estrogen deficiency also appears to promote fat accumulation and may accelerate the loss of fat-free mass, and both of these changes in body composition could impair physical performance. There is evidence that hormone replacement attenuates the negative effects of hypogonadism on body composition and bone density, and that effects are mediated primarily by estrogens rather than progestins. Further research is necessary to broaden the understanding of the role of the estrogens in physical performance.Journal of endocrinological investigation 10/2003; 26(9):902-10. DOI:10.1007/BF03345242 · 1.45 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Low bone mass leading to stress fractures is a well-known and yet unsolved problem among female athletes. To quantify the rate of bone loss in healthy female athletes and investigate the effects of estrogen and vitamin K supplementation on bone loss. Prospective cohort study. We classified 115 female endurance athletes into amenorrheic, eumenorrheic, or estrogen-supplemented groups and randomized them to receive either placebo or vitamin K(1). The bone mineral densities of the subjects' femoral neck and lumbar spine were measured at baseline and after 2 years. Bone mineral density in the lumbar spine remained constant, but bone density in the femoral neck had decreased significantly after 2 years in all three subgroups. The decrease was higher in amenorrheic (-6.5% +/- 4.0%) than in eumenorrheic (-3.2% +/- 4.1%) and estrogen-supplemented athletes (-3.9% +/- 3.1%). Supplementation with vitamin K did not affect the rate of bone loss. The rate of bone loss in all three subgroups of female athletes was unexpectedly high; neither estrogen nor vitamin K supplementation prevented bone loss. Clinical Relevance: High-intensity training maintained over several years must be regarded in women as a risk factor for osteoporosis, and protocols for optimal treatment should be developed.The American Journal of Sports Medicine 11/2003; 31(6):889-95. DOI:10.1177/03635465030310062601 · 4.36 Impact Factor