Objectives: To determine if menstrual status changed in amenorrheic college runners over a 2-year period and what effect this had on brachial artery flow-mediated dilation.
Participants: Eighteen athletes first studied in our laboratory 2 years prior were available for follow-up. Nine of the 10 original women with athletic amenorrhea (mean +/- SE, age 21.3 +/- 1.2 yrs), and 9 of the 11 eumenorrheics/controls (age 20.1 +/- 0.5 yrs) were studied 2 years after baseline measurements.
Methods: Questionnaires/personal interviews and blood draws were performed to determine menstrual status. A non-invasive ultrasound technique was used to determine brachial artery flow-mediated dilation (endothelium-dependent).
Results: Menstrual status changed in 7 of 9 original amenorrheic subjects (2 were taking hormone replacement, 2 were taking oral contraceptives, 3 had a natural menstrual period prior to testing, and 2 remained amenorrheic). Endothelium-dependent brachial artery dilation, measured as the percent change in maximal brachial artery diameter from baseline during reactive hyperemia, was improved in the original amenorrheic subjects (a 1.1% +/- 1.0 increase in the original study versus 5.6% + 1.1 increase in the current study, P=0.01) while in the eumenorrheic/control group there was no change (6.3% +/- 1.7 versus 8.0% +/- 1.3, P=0.42).
Conclusions: Menstrual status changed in 7 of the 9 original amenorrheic athletes, and this change was associated with an improvement in brachial artery flow-mediated dilation.