Managing Menstruation ：How Female Athletes Handle Their Periods
Female athletes are some of the most admired and influential figures in today's world. Whether they are dominating the tennis court or sinking three-pointers on the basketball court, these athletes consistently give their all, overcoming numerous challenges along the way. Among these challenges is the task of managing their menstrual cycles. Despite the pressures to excel at the highest levels, prioritize training over socializing, and perform at their best, many of these remarkable women are able to navigate their periods and continue delivering outstanding performances in their respective sports. So, what is their secret? In this article, we aim to address a question frequently pondered by sports enthusiasts: "How do female athletes effectively manage their menstrual cycles?"
Managing periods can be a challenging task for female athletes who have to contend with the additional pressure of competing while experiencing a range of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms. So, how do these exceptional athletes navigate their menstrual cycles?
- Normalizing the Conversation
The landscape of female athletics has evolved significantly over the years, with a growing number of female athletes making their mark. However, traditional training programs and schedules often fail to consider the unique factors related to female physiology, as they are primarily dominated by male athletic directors and coaches. Thankfully, there is a gradual shift taking place. Female athletes are actively advocating for menstruation to be openly discussed and normalized within the sporting community.
An influential moment occurred when Olympic bronze medallist swimmer Fu Yuanhui openly acknowledged the impact of her period on her performance after participating in the 4x100 meter relay. Her candidness shed light on the fact that female athletes have to navigate the challenges of menstruation alongside their rigorous training regimens, without making excuses or feeling apologetic. This revelation prompted a realization among people that female athletes have to manage this additional aspect in their lives.
Renowned Olympic gold medallist Laura Trott emphasizes the importance of openly addressing menstruation. By doing so, the stigma surrounding this natural and unique process of the female body can be diminished. Furthermore, open discussions facilitate the development of training programs and support systems tailored to the needs of female athletes. Additionally, such conversations encourage further research into more effective strategies for managing the menstrual cycle in the context of athletic performance.
- Tracking Menstrual Cycles
Menstrual cycle tracking is a common practice among female athletes. They recognize the importance of understanding their cycles and incorporating this knowledge into their training routines. For instance, Olympic hockey gold medallist Sam Quek includes period tracking as part of her daily morning routine, while Manchester United Women’s defender Alex Greenwood relies on a monitoring app. This allows them to stay informed about their menstrual cycles and make informed decisions about adjusting the intensity of their training accordingly.
In an interview with Women’s Health, Lioness and Chelsea FC football player Fran Kirby shared that her team utilizes the "Fit for Women" app, which helps them monitor their menstrual cycles and optimize their performance based on that information. In 2020, the Chelsea club became the first female sports team worldwide to tailor its training program to incorporate female-specific factors. Here are some examples of how tracking their menstrual cycles assists women athletes in managing their periods effectively.
During the follicular phase, which marks the beginning of the menstrual cycle and typically lasts for 14 days or the first half of a 28-day cycle, estrogen levels rise to prepare the follicle and thicken the uterine lining in case fertilization occurs. This hormonal surge affects the joints, making female athletes more prone to ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injuries. Given this vulnerability, female athletes and their trainers should take additional precautions during this phase to prevent potential tissue injuries.
Ovulation, the shortest phase of the menstrual cycle, can be accompanied by pain. As the follicle containing the egg stretches the ovary before its release, it eventually ruptures, causing inflammation in the abdominal lining. Being aware of the timing of this phase enables female athletes to prepare and manage the associated discomfort. They may choose to consume anti-inflammatory foods such as green leafy vegetables or take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications. In cases of severe ovulation pain, it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional.
Overall, tracking menstrual cycles empowers female athletes to understand their bodies better and make informed choices regarding training intensity and self-care during different phases of their cycles.
- Managing Menstrual Cycles with Contraceptives
Using hormonal contraceptives to control menstrual cycles is a common practice among female athletes. In a study, approximately half of the surveyed athletes reported using hormonal contraceptives. This approach allows them to regulate the frequency, timing, and intensity of their menstrual bleeding, enabling them to plan their training around their schedules rather than the other way around. However, it is important to be aware of the potential risks associated with this method.
Firstly, taking contraceptives is not suitable for everyone and has certain contraindications. These include a genetic history of blood clots, liver conditions, high blood pressure, and breast cancer. Eilish McColgan, a middle- and long-distance runner and European medallist, tried birth control pills to alleviate her PMS symptoms but found them too strong, leading to intense emotional fluctuations.
There are also potential side effects to consider, such as migraine headaches and an increased risk of blood clots, particularly in individuals who smoke. Combination pills containing progestin can impact cholesterol levels by reducing good cholesterol and increasing bad cholesterol. Some studies have also suggested a potential link between hormonal contraceptives and an elevated risk of cervical and breast cancer.
However, it is important to note that further research is required to establish more conclusive findings. Moreover, as each woman's body is unique, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Therefore, it is advisable for female athletes to consult with their physicians before deciding to use hormonal contraceptives for cycle control. Individual health considerations and personal medical history should be taken into account when making such decisions.
- Effectively Managing Periods with Innovative Period Apparel
Female athletes now have access to advanced menstrual management solutions in the form of period apparel. These products incorporate the latest scientific and technological advancements to provide safe and effective period management.
Take, for example, Beautikini Period Underwear, which offers a reliable and leak-proof solution without any side effects. It eliminates the risk of leaks from the front, back, or sides, providing athletes with peace of mind. What sets Beautikini apart is its commitment to health and the environment. The period underwear is free from harsh chemicals such as PFAs, PULs, and nanosilver that could potentially harm human health and the ecosystem.
Beautikini Athletics is specifically designed for athletes participating in various sports such as running, swimming, tennis, and gymnastics. The lightweight and absorbent fabric of this specialized line enhances performance during low- or high-intensity training. The collection also features a patent-pending "floating gusset," a discreet design element that ensures freedom of movement without compromising on comfort or protection.
It's important to note that these innovative period apparel options are not limited to professional athletes. Anyone can enjoy the freedom and confidence that comes with managing their period effectively. With Beautikini, you can confidently navigate through your special time of the month. Explore our collection today to experience the difference for yourself.