The Menstrual Cycle is an important part of the female body. Understanding the different factors and how our body works is important information for both the athlete and coach in supporting high performance.
So, the Menstrual Cycle!!
Understand the Basics
When it comes to female sports we are still in an era of ‘stop playing like a girl’ , and silly comments about females being on their period and having a dig about athletes and that time of the month. For us at Precision Athletica it is about encouraging the conversation and making it the norm when it comes to our female athletes.
Every female is different, many will experience a normal cycle, some will experience abnormalities within their cycle and some may be experiencing no cycle at all.
Firstly we need to understand what is normal?
During a normal menstrual cycle, the beginning is normally referred to as menses’. This is when a female starts bleeding and shedding the uterine lining. Which is generally around 3-7 days for most females. It is the beginning of the follicular phase, or often referred to as the ‘low hormone’ phase. The three hormones that we need to know are the low luteinizing hormone (LH), follicle stimulating hormone (FH) and progesterone.
During this phase the levels of estrogen will slowly increase, and it last up to 14 days. The middle of the cycle is where ovulation should occur (when a mature egg is released from the ovary down fallopian tube for 12-24 hours for the purpose of fertility).
The two hormones that spike during this phase are estrogen and LH. This phase is where any female has a high percentage of falling pregnant. Post ovulation females will then move into the Luteal phase. Where the hormones of estrogen and progesterone become higher.
But what are all of these hormones and how do they effect our body?
Is the obvious female sex hormone that supports the sexual and reproductive system. The ovaries make the most estrogen hormones within the body but not the only such as adrenal glands. ‘ It also regulates the menstrual cycle, and effects many organ systems such as our muscles, heart and blood vessels.
Besides being responsible for reproduction, this hormone is primarily responsible for maintaining our monthly cycle. If this hormone is low it is common for your period to be skipped.
Has different functions across each phase of the menstrual cycle and is specific to reproduction. Low levels can cause menstrual abnormalities.
So, as much as all of these hormones are in relation to our reproductive system, they are super important chemical messages that are communicating to all areas of our body.
High Performing Athletes are getting their period
If we look at high performing female athletes and understand that having a normal period benefits performance such as the ability to have improved performances at higher intensities. Helping to reduce fatigue which is often a common symptom within female athletes. And also can reduce the risk of injuries.
Symptoms (What’s Normal)
Each female athlete will experience different symptoms but on average over 75% will have negative impacts on their performance. Most of the time just prior to ‘menses’ and the first 1-2 days an athlete can suffer from the following (which is totally normal):
- Period Cramps (stomach)
- Lower Back Pain
- Fatigue Increases
- Heavy Bleeding
- Breasts are sore and heavy
- Constipation / Diarrhoea
If a female suffers from severe symptoms, this can be a sign of menstrual cycle abnormalities. The most important thing is for the athletes to have an understanding of their bodies and also coaches being able to know when these changes occur within the athletes training block, so that we can make adjustments accordingly.
So, now that we have a brief understanding of what a normal menstrual cycle is, it is time as athletes and coaches to start tracking, and having the conversation around periods, because our goal for our athletes is to be high performing athletes in their chosen field.
Want To Know More
If you would like to know more or you’re a female athlete looking for a performance coach and environment to train in, please contact our Strength & Conditioning Coach Shona O’Connell-Shea to book in a session.
How Do I Book An Appointment with Precision Athletica for Help?
We’re taking the health of our clients, members and staff very seriously and our preference would be for you to call to book an appointment so that we can make sure to explain our approach to keeping you safe. You can call our bookings team to schedule a session:
Evolving with the current environment, we are also now offering online appointments, meaning that we can support anyone who is unable to leave their home. Sessions are done via our state of the art Telehealth system and as long as you have a laptop or tablet with an inbuilt camera, or a phone with camera, we can help!
To learn more about online consultations, please call us on any of the numbers listed above.