Amenorrhea and Stress Fractures in Female New Jersey Division III Collegiate Runners: An Opportunity for Increased Health Education


  • Emily Forester, BS Rowan-Virtua School of Osteopathic Medicine, Stratford, New Jersey, U.S.A.
  • Tara Pellegrino, DO Department of Family Medicine, Rowan-Virtua School of Osteopathic Medicine, Stratford, New Jersey, U.S.A.



female athlete, amenorrhea, stress fracture, prevention


BACKGROUND: In the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), 9.1% of the injuries reported by women’s cross-country athletes between 2014-2019 were fractures. Both history of amenorrhea and prior stress fractures have been found to predict incidence of subsequent bone stress injuries among female athletes. Although excessive exercise is a major contributor to the development of amenorrhea, there are currently no studies on the association between amenorrhea and stress fractures in New Jersey (NJ) National NCAA Division III Women’s cross country or track athletes. This study aims to determine if there is an association between incidence of amenorrhea and subsequent occurrence of stress fractures among this population, and to identify a possible area for increased reproductive health education.

METHODS: This is a survey-based study. Participants were female athletes over the age of 18 who currently participate in collegiate cross country or track running at a NJ Division III school. Coaches of the Division III cross country and track teams in NJ distributed a survey to their female athletes to gain participants for this study. Survey data included information on participant menstrual history, stress fracture history, and athletic involvement. Participants also indicated if their school’s staff had ever educated them on the importance of menstrual regularity and athletics. Descriptive statistics and comparison between groups were analyzed.

RESULTS: In total, 68 survey responses were collected. Survey respondents included female NJ cross country and track athletes ages 18-23, from a total of eight institutions. During training or competition, 58.8% of the study participants missed at least one menstrual cycle and 45.6% experienced a stress fracture. There is a significant association between having missed at least one menstrual cycle during training or competition and the number of stress fractures experienced by the athlete (p = 0.044). Only 30.9% of respondents indicated that someone from their school’s staff spoke to them about the importance of maintaining regular menstruation during training.

CONCLUSION: This study confirms that both amenorrhea and stress fractures are commonly seen among NJ NCAA Division III female cross country and track athletes. Our data also highlights a need for increased education of NJ Division III female athletes regarding the importance of maintaining regular menstruation as a means of stress fracture prevention. Further investigation of the role of amenorrhea on the incidence of stress fractures may shine light on an important area for prevention and increased health education.


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How to Cite

Amenorrhea and Stress Fractures in Female New Jersey Division III Collegiate Runners: An Opportunity for Increased Health Education. (2023). Journal of Women’s Sports Medicine, 3(3), 14-21.

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