Association between body composition and menstrual dysfunction in collegiate dance students

J Obstet Gynaecol Res. 1997 Dec;23(6):529-35. doi: 10.1111/j.1447-0756.1997.tb00882.x.


Objective: To evaluate the relationship between body mass index, body fat composition and fat distribution and menstrual dysfunction in collegiate dancing students.

Method: A total of 64 dancing students from a collegiate school of dancing were studied through interview by a structured questionnaire to elicit details of menstrual history, and these were correlated to anthropometric measurements obtained by physical examination.

Results: There were 22 ballerinas, 16 classic Chinese dancers, and 26 modern or theatrical dancers. Ten (15.6%) had oligomenorrhoea and 12 (18.7%) had amenorrhoea, with a slight, but statistically non-significant preponderance of ballerinas in the amenorrhoeic group. There was no difference in the body mass index among the eumenorrhoeic, oligomenorrhoeic or amenorrhoeic group, but amenorrhoeic dancers had a significantly lower percentage of total body fat as calculated by a 4 site skinfold thickness formula when compared to eumenorrhoeic ones (15.72% vs 17.95%, p < 0.05). Amenorrhoeic dancers also had lower waist to hip (p < 0.001) and waist to thigh circumference ratios (p < 0.001), indicating that they had more feminine figures favoured aesthetically for dancers.

Conclusion: The data suggests that estimation of percentage of body fat gave a better correlation to menstrual status than either weight or body mass index. Thus, proper nutritional advice based on such evaluation should be an essential component in treating menstrual dysfunction in these dancers.

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue
  • Adult
  • Amenorrhea / epidemiology
  • Body Composition*
  • Body Constitution
  • Body Mass Index
  • Dancing*
  • Female
  • Hong Kong
  • Humans
  • Menstruation Disturbances / epidemiology*
  • Menstruation Disturbances / etiology
  • Oligomenorrhea / epidemiology
  • Skinfold Thickness