In part two of our series, dietitian Fiona Sutherland explains the role of periods, hormones and bones.
HOW important are your bones for dancing? Well, aside from your skeleton holding you together, any dancer who has had problems with their bones will tell you that keeping them healthy is absolutely critical. We are understanding more and more about the role of nutrition, and now hormones, in helping our bones grow properly and stay as healthy as possible, for as long as possible.
In the last edition of Dance Australia (August/September) we spoke about the role of hormone health and the reasons why missing periods can be a signal that your body isn’t getting the energy it needs – most commonly due to combinations of under-eating, over-exercising and stress.
Essentially, not getting a period (or being irregular) means that oestrogen (a female hormone) is not high enough in the body for menstruation to occur. And it’s not just your period that can be affected, in fact hormone health may only be one of the factors which pop up.
To offer some back-story, in the early 1990s a group of sports medicine experts in the US noticed some common symptoms among mostly younger females in sports or activities that emphasise a smaller or leaner body frame. They noticed that when females had difficulty meeting their energy requirements (either because they weren’t eating enough or doing too much
exercise), their menstrual cycles seemed to be irregular, which in turn affected their bone density. They called this “The Female Athlete Triad”, describing the relationship between the elements of energy (from food), menstrual regularity and bone health. In brief, not meeting energy requirements can have significant flow-on effects with specific regard to hormone health and bone health. . .