The primary purpose of this study was to determine whether decreased ovarian progesterone production, associated with short and inadequate luteal phases in exercising women, was associated with decreased bone mineral density (BMD) and altered bone metabolism. Thirty-three eumenorrheic menstruating women participated in this study for 3 months. Subjects were required to collect daily urine samples for three consecutive menstrual cycles and have blood and urine collected weekly. Daily urine samples were analyzed for free LH, estrone conjugates (E1C), and pregnanediol 3- glucuronide (PdG), adjusted for creatinine, whereas weekly blood and urine samples were analyzed for bone markers, estradiol, progesterone, FSH, and LH. Based on the analyses of these samples, subjects were divided into three groups: sedentary ovulatory (SedOvul; n = 9), exercising ovulatory (ExOvul; n = 14), and exercising luteal phase defects (ExLPD; n = 10). The three groups were matched for age (27.6 ± 1.0 yr), weight (60.6 ± 1.9 cm), and reproductive maturity (14.5 ± 1.0 yr). PdG production during the luteal phase was lower (P = 0.004) in the ExLPD women compared to that in the SedOvul group (2.4 ± 0.4 vs. 5.1 ± 0.6 ng/mL creatinine, respectively). The ExOvul group also had less (P < 0.01) PdG production during the luteal phase (3.5 ± 0.3 ng/mL creatinine) compared to the SedOvul group. The total production of PdG, as assessed by area under the curve analysis, was also lower (P < 0.001) in the ExOvul and ExLPD groups compared to that in the SedOvul group. E1C production, however, was not different (P > 0.05) among the groups, except for E1C during the early follicular phase, which was lower (P = 0.043) in the ExLPD group than that in the SedOvul group. BMD and biochemical markers of bone metabolism were unaffected by and not associated with the compromised progesterone environment, but BMD values at the proximal femur (r = 0.354; P = 0.061) and total body (r = 0.359; P = 0.056) were associated with decreased early follicular E1C production. We conclude the following. 1) Luteal phase disturbances occur independent of training volume; and volume of training does not have to be severe to result in menstrual disturbances. 2) As a result of exercise, disturbance in progesterone production is not associated with decreased bone mass. 3) Long follicular phases are associated with reduced estrogen production during the early follicular phase, which are both associated with decreased bone mass. 4) Provided the estradiol status is adequately maintained, BMD is unaffected by decreased progesterone production associated with short and inadequate luteal phases in exercising women.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Clinical Biochemistry
- Biochemistry, medical