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Ormerod, J K.1; Haymes, E M. FACSM1

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: May 2003 - Volume 35 - Issue 5 - p S197
D-24D Free Communication/Slide Women: Exercise and Heat Stress

1Exercise Physiology Laboratory, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL

Menstrual cycle phase is known to influence thermoregulation, and fluid loss during exercise/heat stress may vary at different stages of the ovarian cycle in healthy women. It has been established that the steroid hormones, estrogen and progesterone, have an effect on fluid and electrolyte balance, and that there is a tendency toward free water retention during the luteal phase when estrogen levels are high. These findings raise questions of whether there is an acute effect of endogenous hormone status on fluid balance, and whether hydration during exercise is affected by the phase of the menstrual cycle.

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To determine whether ad libitum fluid intake during exercise induced sweat loss varies over the course of the normal menstrual cycle.

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Seven eumenorrheic (31 ± 2 d) females (22 ± 1 yrs) underwent 3 exercise/rest trials (treadmill walking at 3% grade, 30–35% VO2max, 30 min·h−1 followed by 30 min of sitting during a 3 h period in 36°C, rh 50–70%) during 3 different phases of the menstrual cycle. Trials were undertaken 3 (menses) and 8–10 d (midfollicular) after the onset of menstrual bleeding, and 7–9 d following the LH peak (midluteal) over 3 consecutive menstrual cycles.

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Total fluid intake was similar in all phases; 1124.7 ± 62.7 ml during menses; 1367.0 ± 97.3 ml during follicular; 1665.3 ± 119.3 ml during luteal. Stomach fullness ratings were higher during the luteal phase (6 ± 0.4) compared to the follicular (4 ± 0.5) and menses phases (3 ± 0.5, P < 0.05). Basal plasma osmolality (p < osm) was lower in the luteal phase (281 ± 1 mosm/kgH2O, P < 0.05) than in the follicular phase (289 ± 1 mosm/kgH2O). There was no significant menstrual cycle phase effect on perceived thirst ratings, plasma vasopressin concentrations, or plasma volume across experimental days.

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Ad libitum replacement of exercise induced fluid losses is not affected by menstrual cycle phase in healthy young women. Supported by Women's Sports Foundation Girl's and Women in Sports Research Grant 2001.

©2003The American College of Sports Medicine