Anorexia nervosa, athletics, and amenorrhea

I F Litt, L Glader
Journal of Pediatrics 1986, 109 (1): 150-3
We examined menstrual function in two groups of patients meeting the DSM III criteria for anorexia nervosa who differed only in their physical activity. Sixteen athletes with anorexia nervosa were compared with eight sedentary patients who had anorexia nervosa. Athletic patients with anorexia were found to have lower gonadotropin levels, a longer period of amenorrhea both before significant weight loss and after weight rehabilitation, and a higher weight at the time of resumption of menses than patients with anorexia who were sedentary. However, both groups were markedly undernourished, had amenorrhea before significant weight loss and after weight rehabilitation, and had lower gonadotropin levels than normal subjects. These data suggest that the increased physical activity often seen in patients with anorexia nervosa worsens, but does not cause, menstrual dysfunction.

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