The effect of physical activity across the menstrual cycle on reproductive function

Katherine A. Ahrens, Catherine J. Vladutiu, Sunni L. Mumford, Karen C. Schliep, Neil J. Perkins, Jean Wactawski-Wende, Enrique F. Schisterman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Purpose: To evaluate the association between physical activity (PA) across the menstrual cycle and reproductive function. Methods: The BioCycle Study (2005-2007) followed 259 healthy premenopausal women not using hormonal contraceptives for up to two menstrual cycles (N = 509 cycles). Serum leptin, estradiol, progesterone, luteinizing hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone, and testosterone were measured five to eight times per cycle. Linear mixed models were used to estimate the effect of past-week PA (measured four times during each cycle) on hormone levels. Past-week PA was categorized into tertiles based on metabolic equivalent of task hours per week (cut-points were 15.3 and 35.7). Risk ratios for sporadic anovulation were estimated using generalized linear models. Analyses adjusted for habitual PA (assessed at baseline), body mass index, race, age, and perceived stress. Linear mixed models used inverse probability weights to control for concurrent reproductive hormones and caloric intake. Results: High past-week PA was inversely associated with leptin (-6.6%; 95% confidence interval, -10.6 to -2.5) and luteal phase progesterone (-22.1%; -36.2 to -4.7) as compared with low past-week PA. High past-week PA was not significantly associated with sporadic anovulation (adjusted risk ratio, 1.5; 0.6 to 3.4). Conclusions: High levels of PA were modestly associated with changes in select hormones but not sporadic anovulation among moderate to highly active premenopausal women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)127-134
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of epidemiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Hormones
  • Leisure activity
  • Menstrual cycle
  • Motor activity
  • Women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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