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Health Effects of Female Bodybuilding

By Catherine Divaris

Female bodybuilding is not for the weak. Athletes who compete must have enormous amounts of discipline, the physical ability to train five to six times per week, and a lot of self-confidence. Preparation for a bodybuilding show takes months of hardcore dieting and exercise -- a journey most people would never consider. In addition to increased muscle tone, female bodybuilders may undergo other physical changes or changes to their health.

Breast Reduction

If you are a serious competitor in the bodybuilding circuit, you will most likely drop below 12 percent body fat. Breasts are composed mostly of fatty tissue, so they will decrease in size the leaner you get. Your bra size may increase because your back is getting bigger, but cup size will most definitely decrease.

Exercise-Induced Amenorrhoea

Exercise-induced amenorrhoea is the absence of menstrual periods due to excessive exercise, low body fat levels or the effect of exercise-related hormones on the menstrual cycle. For female bodybuilders, it is not always an option to do less exercise. According to the "Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism," taking calcium supplements to prevent osteoporosis, oral contraceptives and dietary adjustments are a few treatment options for this condition.

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Eating Disorder, Bodybuilder-Type

The journal Psychotherapy and Psychomatics in 2000 identified a new type of eating disorder called eating disorder, bodybuilder-type or ED,BT. This eating disorder is characterized by high-protein, high-calorie, low-fat diets that are pre-measured and eaten at regular intervals throughout the day. Women who have this disorder often refuse to eat out at restaurants or at friends' houses for fear of not knowing the precise caloric intake of their meals and report intense anxiety when a scheduled meal is missed.

Steroid Use

The effects of steroids are more intense in women because anabolic steroids are a form of testosterone, the male sex hormone. The positive effects include more defined muscles, an increase in strength and a more effective training regimen because testosterone reduces recovery time between sets. The negative effects of steroids in women are: a more masculine physique, a deeper voice, squaring of the jaw, male pattern baldness and a physiological change that changes the reproductive system.

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