Florida athletes asked to report menstrual cycles

Banfield

(NewsNation) — Female high school athletes in Florida are being asked certain questions about their medical history, including menstrual cycle information.

The questions are optional, and they’ve been routine for about two decades.  However, many Florida schools recently moved from paper forms to digital, and they’ve partnered with a company called Aktivate. It’s a public company, so they have to comply with subpoenas. Legally, Aktivate can share information about menstrual cycle with anybody.

The news is alarming for families of female athletes, considering the state has a 15-week abortion ban. Dr. Chris Koutures, the pediatrician who served on the committee that crafted the questionnaire, says he has concerns.

“I have the same fears about the confidential nature of the discussion we have in the exam room. Is that information going to be shared in a way that can be detrimental to the health of both the athlete and his or her family?”

Koutures explained that the reason the form asks about young athlete’s menstrual cycles is to better understand if she’s getting appropriate energy.

“It means that her ovaries are releasing estrogen that helps keep bone health. There aren’t many girls that are going to come into my office and say, ‘I’m worried about not getting enough energy, I’m worried about possibly having weak bones.’ But if we work backwards, and we ask them about their menstrual history, we find out if they’re not having regular periods, they might be at higher risk for bone stress injuries, anorexia, bulimia — conditions that could be life threatening,” Koutures said during an appearance Tuesday night on NewsNation’s “Banfield.”

Health care attorney Harry Nelson, the author of “From ObamaCare to TrumpCare: Why You Should Care,” says there needs to be “much better state and federal protection of general consumer privacy for this kind of data.”

“When you input information, like menstrual history, into these general websites, they are not subject to any consumer privacy or other medical privacy laws,” Nelson said on “Banfield.” “We’ve already had cases where law enforcement went online and got data online to pinpoint that there had been an illegal termination of a pregnancy, so this is really already happening.”

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