The Female Athlete Health Group has recently published the first study that identifies heavy menstrual bleeding (HMB) as a common problem amongst exercising females. Somewhat surprisingly HMB is also common in elite athletes, and is associated with self-reported anaemia, increased use of iron supplementation and a perceived negative impact on performance.
In spite of all the issues caused by this condition, awareness appears to be poor with less than half of those with HMB having sought help. The lack of demand for medical attention indicates that either those affected don’t feel or realize this is a problem, or have learnt to cope with it, highlighting that more research and an increased awareness is needed. The next stage of this research will focus on whether HMB does actually increase risk of iron deficiency based on venous blood sample results.
Bruinvels G. The Prevalence and Impact of Heavy Menstrual Bleeding (Menorrhagia) in Elite and Non-Elite Athletes. PLoS One. 2016 Feb 22;11(2):e0149881 doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0149881. eCollection 2016.