Evaluation of Sport-Specific and Personal Factors in Relation to the Occurrence of Menstrual Irregularity in Female College Athletes




Nwosu, Onyekachukwu M.
Papa, Evan V.
Helbig, Casi


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Purpose Female collegiate athlete participation has significantly increased over the last quarter-century. Despite the known benefits of exercise for females, participation in sports may lead to alterations in menstrual cycle regularity. The prevalence of menstrual irregularities is believed to be associated with the type of sport played. Moreover, there is a correlation between female athletes who participate with reduced body fat, weight, and the onset of later menarche and menstrual cycle irregularities. The purpose of this study was to determine the relationship between Body Mass Index (BMI), body fat percent, type of sport, and other sport-specific and personal factors in relation to menstrual irregularities in college athletes. Methods All female athletes at Texas Lutheran University were invited to participate. The sample was composed of 94 participants from seven sports (Cross-Country, Track, Soccer, Volleyball, Tennis, Softball, Basketball). Each participant filled out a questionnaire, which assessed variables including their age at menarche, intensity of training session, menstrual history, and use of oral contraceptives, BMI, and body fat percentage. A binary logistic regression was used to investigate the predictive properties of the variables to predict the presence of menstrual irregularities. This model produced odds ratios of having an irregular menstrual cycle based on each independent variable. Statistical analysis was performed with SPSS and effects were considered statistically significant when p Results The model explained 31.0% of the variance in menstrual irregularities and correctly classified 71.0% of cases. Sensitivity was 30.8%, specificity was 86.6%, positive predictive value was 46.1%, and negative predictive value was 74.8%. None of the six individual predictor variables were statistically significant. Female athletes who used contraceptives were 2.29 times more likely to exhibit menstrual irregularities than females who did not use contraceptives. Older age at time of menarche and females who played soccer were associated with an increased likelihood of exhibiting menstrual irregularities. Conclusions A predictive model of various personal and sport specific-factors demonstrated a significant correlation with the alteration of normal menstruation. The use of contraceptives, older age at time of menarche and females who played soccer were associated with an increased likelihood of having menstrual irregularities. Healthcare providers such as physical therapists should be aware of the increased risk of developing menstrual irregularities with sport-specific and other personal factors.