Sport and menstrual cycle

Blog By: Riya Rathore

Most of the athletes said that they have a painful menstruation period, and during the competition their pain decreased The female sex steroid hormones estrogen and progesterone have potential effects on exercise capacity and performance through numerous mechanisms, such as substrate metabolism, cardiorespiratory function, thermoregulation, psychologic factors, and injuries. Consequently, hormone level changes may theoretically lead to either improved or decreased performance at various times throughout the menstrual cycle. Numerous methodological issues and a paucity of studies have precluded evidence-based conclusions in almost every area of research in this field. In addition, there appears to be a great degree of inter- and in training individual variability in these hormonal responses.

Using oral contraceptives may be advantageous for female athletes who are negatively affected by their menstrual cycle, as they may provide a stable yet controllable hormonal milieu for training and competition. Participation in sports is often seen as the preserve of the young and fit. While the years from adolescence to young adulthood may be when bodies are at the peak of physical fitness, for women, this time happens to coincide with the years in which menstruation occurs. Croft considers the impact of the menstrual cycle on sporting performance to be “the last taboo” in sports, yet others downplay its influence.

British runner Paula Radcliffe currently holds the world record for the women’s marathon and she broke the existing record at the start of her period.”I broke the world record so it can’t be that much of a hindrance,” she told the BBC, “but undoubtedly that’s why I had a cramped stomach in the final third of the race and didn’t feel as comfortable as I could’ve done.” Alongside these changes, women can also be affected by premenstrual syndrome (PMS) manifesting in emotional, behavioral and physical symptoms. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists believe that around 85% of menstruating women experience at least one symptom of PMS as part of their monthly cycle. The days leading up to ‘that time of the month’ are full of bloating, cramps, sugar cravings and mood swings; it’s a week no woman looks forward to. This week Britain’s number one tennis player, Heather Watson went down in the first round of the Australian Open in Melbourne, and it was a big deal. Not because she but because she put her poor performance down to the unfortunate timing clash the tour had with her menstrual cycle.

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