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Review
. 2016;47:27-43.
doi: 10.1159/000445154. Epub 2016 Jun 27.

Exercise, Training, and the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Gonadal Axis in Men and Women

Free PMC article
Review

Exercise, Training, and the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Gonadal Axis in Men and Women

Natalia Cano Sokoloff et al. Front Horm Res. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

The hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis is essential for adequate responses to exercise and training both acutely and chronically. Both testosterone and estrogen play leading roles in neuromuscular adaptation to exercise in males and females. The purpose of this chapter is to illustrate the physiological and pathological changes that occur in the HPG axis secondary to exercise and training. In males, testosterone increases with acute bouts of exercise, but long-term effects are less clear, with evidence of lower testosterone in endurance athletes. Restricted energy availability may negatively affect hormone levels in male endurance athletes, but data regarding low energy availability and its impact on the HPG axis are limited in male athletes. Conversely, in females there is significant evidence that decreased energy availability inhibits the HPG axis, leading to menstrual irregularities and lower bone density. Hormonal changes secondary to acute bouts of exercise are more challenging to interpret in females due to menstrual variability, which traditionally has not been taken into account in many studies. However, some evidence supports an increase in testosterone and estradiol with acute exercise. More work is needed to elucidate the relationships among energy availability, basal hormonal fluctuations, and exercise, and their collective effects on the HPG axis.

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