Women and Sports

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Women and Sports

Information, data, and statistics surrounding how female athletes deal with their menstrual cycles while playing and/or practicing their sport have been curated, and presented below.

General Information

  • Although menstruation can affect an athletes' performance during their training and races, it is rarely publicly discussed, however, it is a subject of conversation privately between female athletes.
  • According to Dr. Petra Casey, extreme training by female athletes can result in a condition known as hypothalamic amenorrhea. This condition results in the cessation of their menstrual cycle and may bring along health difficulties later in life, especially if this goes on for years.
  • Athletes will sometimes task their coach to record their menstruation cycles, but now that there are apps to take care of that like FitrWoman, it is just as easy for them to track it themselves. FitrWoman was thrust into the national spotlight after the US women soccer team publicly announced that they made use of it to improve their training before the World Cup.
  • The app enables users to track exercise and energy levels throughout their cycle. This allows them to adapt to training differently at different points of their cycle.
  • While on an interview in Good Morning America, Dawn Scott, the coach said that the FitrWoman tracking app was one of the strategies that helped them to win the World Cup.
  • According to George Bruinvell, the inventor of the app, the findings taken from the app would help in understanding how each team member was faring during their cycle, and then make adjustments in their approach to nutrition and hydration.
  • According to Bruinvels, "Hormonal fluctuations can affect things like biomechanics, laxity of ligaments and muscular firing patterns."
  • Female athletes are advised to take in more carbohydrates in the first half of their menstrual cycle, and in the second phase of the menstrual cycle, increase intake of fats. This is because strength training is advantageous in the first half of the menstrual cycle as the body is able to adapt and recover better.
  • Sarah Canney, a runner, writer and the founder and host of "Rise Run Retreat" asserts that the use of the app has made her change her perception about the menstrual cycle and how she deals with it. "If I have a bad workout during ovulation or in the luteal phase, I know it was likely due to hormones, and I cut myself some slack."
  • There are female athletes that use contraceptives, which make periods lighter and ease symptoms, but also can have adverse effects such as fluctuation of hormones.

How the Menstrual Period Affects Female Athletes

  • In some instance's athletes have pulled out of a race because of their menstrual cycles.
  • According to Dr. Emma Ross, the monthly cycle of hormones has effects on the athlete's body system, moods, and emotions.
  • Research indicates that female athletes are more likely to get anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries than men. This is because Oestrogen, which repairs and thickens the uterus lining during menstruation, tends to increase the elasticity of joints a few days before ovulation. As a result, ACL problems can arise, leading to a knee or joint twist.
  • Devin Logan, team USA free skier and Olympic silver medalist will "sometimes skip the sugar pills in her birth control pack to avoid having my period when she is coming up on a competition." She also has stated that by taking extra magnesium and calcium during that time of the month, it really helps her.
  • Jada Hudson, a competitive pole dancer had to rework her entire routine two days before her competition because of her period.
  • According to Pam Moore, a competitive marathoner it's the three to five days before her period when things get really bad. She asserts that she always feels better after a workout. "I've made the decision to never let my period or PMS interrupt my training or racing."
  • Amber Beaver, a pro bikini athlete says that Instead of worrying about her period, she chooses to "stay focused on what I'm there to accomplish on stage."