Durability of the reproductive axis in eumenorrheic women during 1 yr of endurance training

A. D. Rogol, A. Weltman, J. Y. Weltman, R. L. Seip, D. B. Snead, S. Levine, E. M. Haskvitz, D. L. Thompson, R. Schurrer, E. Dowling, J. Walberg-Rankin, W. S. Evans, J. D. Veldhuis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Menstrual cycle (MC) alterations occur in some endurance-training women. We hypothesized that a prospective running program would evoke alterations in MC phase lengths and in the physiological frequency of pulses of luteinizing hormone (LH) and/or diminish 24-h integrated serum LH concentrations in some women. In addition, we postulated that women who train more intensively (above the lactate threshold) would show alterations in gonadotropin release earlier in the training program or to a greater degree. To test these hypotheses, we examined the effects of different exercise intensities on physiological and endocrine responses. Twenty-three healthy eumenorrheic gynecologically mature (postmenarchal age 17.8 ± 0.9 yr) untrained women undertook a 1-yr training program at one of two exercise intensities, one at a velocity corresponding to the lactate threshold (LT) and the other halfway between that of LT and peak running velocity, or served as controls. Training distance was the same in each exercise group. Physiological measurements were repeated every four MC to track changes in fitness and readjust training velocities. The lengths of the MC and the follicular and luteal phases were determined from hormonal concentrations. Body composition, nutritional intake, and pulsatile release of LH were determined. The women ran ~790 miles. Each group improved physiologically, with the >LT group improving to a greater degree. A <2-day decrease in the luteal phase length was observed only in the >LT group. No significant changes for any parameter of pulsatile LH release were noted between exercise groups. No significant changes in nutritional intake and only small changes in body composition were noted in either exercise group despite the added energy expenditure of exercise. We conclude that a progressive exercise program of moderate distance and intensity does not adversely affect the robust reproductive system of gynecologically mature eumenorrheic women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1571-1580
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of applied physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1992


  • estrogen
  • exercise
  • lactate threshold
  • luteinizing hormone
  • menstrual cycle
  • oxygen consumption
  • progesterone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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