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Sports and Women’s Health

If you are a woman and you are contemplating on doing sports, there might be some things that you can’t help but wonder about with regards to your health. For sure, there are so many health benefits that women can enjoy from doing sports but if you are a health-conscious person, you won’t be able to help but wonder if what you are doing will cause any ramifications health-wise. Women especially have a lot to worry and be careful about when it comes to their body and health.

Most women who are already active in sports will want to know the benefits it offers as well as the possible problems and risks that they might encounter if they continue doing sports. There are a lot of things you should know about, that’s for certain.

Benefits of Doing Sports

Sports makes a really enjoyable and productive exercise. It will not only give you the energy and fitness that you need, it will also hone your physical skills and make you feel good inside and out. It’s great for the body and is equally awesome for the mind. Sports will also open many doors for socialization, hence you can meet new friends, compete have fun and have a healthy social life too. If you want to lose weight or tone up your body the way you want to, playing sports is also a more pleasing way to achieve your goals. However, it can also cause some health issues if you are not careful. What are the health problems connected to sports that you should be wary about?

Health Problems Associated With Sports

Playing sports when you are a full-grown woman can be quite different when you do it as a child or as a teenager. It will also have a different effect if you are suddenly actively doing sports when you are elderly. For girls, they usually play sports while their bodies are growing and changing. Because of this, girls are more prone to injury because their bodies are not fully developed yet. Their intense physical activities will also impact the level of their hormones. This means that the impact will be huge because hormones like estrogen and progesterone which regulates the menstrual cycle are also affected. Aside from that, strenuous activities can affect your estrogen levels, which in turn will affect your bones, your period and your physical development.

Girls who play sports competitively should be extra careful because usually, there’s an issue of their weight. Competitive athletes are usually receiving pressure from parents and coach regarding their weight because they want the girl to succeed in whatever sports they are doing. This can cause disorders in eating.

Eating Problems

When people try to lose weight, their way of eating sometimes become disordered. This is referred to as disordered eating. This can come in many forms such as extreme diets, use of laxatives and diuretics, fasting, skipping meals, and even forcing themselves to vomit after eating. However, this should not be confused with eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia. While it is not quite on the same level as these eating disorders, these disordered eating symptoms can be serious and can eventually lead to the previously mentioned eating disorders.

The Female Athlete Triad

There are 3 common problems that are usually found in young women playing sports. This includes weight loss and being underweight, usually because of disordered eating, irregular periods and weak bones. These three are commonly referred to as the ‘Female Athlete Triad’. Since estrogen, weight and bone density is closely tied together in women, doing sports too much can lead to these problems. When a young woman tries to lose weight in order to be in her best form for her sport, this will cause her to lose not just fat but also body muscle mass. When this happens, the body will compensate the energy loss by reducing estrogen levels. This will, in turn, weaken the bones and is dangerous in sports as the woman will be at risk for fractures. The immune system can also take a bad beating at this rate.

Symptoms of the Female Athlete Triad

There are symptoms that you should watch out for. If you have these symptoms you ought to see a professional. The symptoms you should watch out for include irregular periods, weight loss and other drastic weight changes, extreme or constant tiredness, obsession with weight, stress fractures, guilt feelings on days you skip exercising, limiting your food intake, fasting, and other disordered eating behavior.

You should also watch your menstrual cycle carefully. If your menstruation comes with a gap of lesser than 21 days or more than 45 days, you should be alarmed. Another warning would be periods that last longer than one week. If your period used to be regular and has become irregular since you took up sports, you should also be wary. If you haven’t had a period in more than 3 months, you should really get properly checked by a doctor.

A strong indication of poor bone mass is frequent stress fractures. Bone mass is the amount of healthy tissue in your bones. Not having your period and not eating properly is the best way for you to slowly lose your bones. You should really be concerned when you are experiencing these symptoms. It is best to consult your doctor as soon as possible because inappropriate levels of estrogen can permanently impact your reproductive health. This means it could be difficult for you to get pregnant later. As if that’s not enough, when your bone density is pretty low, your bones will get fractured easily and you might even develop osteoporosis.

How To Stay Healthy Despite Being Active in Sports

Even without these symptoms, it’s always a good idea to visit your doctor periodically. You can ask your doctor about the best weight for you. When you know what your ideal weight is, you should stick to it and you must make sure that you would never go below that number. Make sure that you are eating appropriate foods. Seek help when you feel that you are having disordered eating – it’s the best way to cut an eating disorder in the bud even before it starts showing that it’s a menace. Pay attention to your menstrual period, record if possible and report to your doctor if there are some changes. There is usually no need for anyone to stop playing sports just because of these problems. Usually, change in activity level and eating habits will do the trick.

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