The purpose of this study was to monitor ovarian hormone function response to intense exercise and body weight changes in female athletes. Ovarian hormone function was evaluated in 12 female lightweight rowers and 10 age-height-weight matched sedentary controls. Ovarian hormone function was assessed during consecutive competition season and off season, by measurement of peak and average alternative day overnight urinary oestrone glucuronide (E1G) and pregnanediol glucuronide (PdG) excretion. Competition season was associated with a 5.8 kg (9.3%) body weight loss in the lightweight rowers. Significantly lower competition season peak and average urinary excretion of PdG were found in the lightweight rowers compared with the controls. Lower competition season peak and average urinary excretion of E1G were also found in the lightweight rowers compared with the controls, but the difference did not reach significance. The number of rowing training hours was a significant determinant of peak PdG excretion in the rowers (R2 = 0.40; p<0.02). The seasonal suppression of PdG excretion was associated with degree of weight loss (R2 = 0.46; p<0.01). The competition related decrease in E1G and PdG excretion for the lightweight rowers was predominantly restored during the off season when exercise intensity and duration were decreased and body weight increased. These results showed a significant (p<0.05) reduction in progesterone metabolite excretion and a non-significant decrease in oestrone metabolite excretion associated with intensive competition season training loads and body weight reduction in female lightweight rowers.
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