Female Athlete Menstrual Cycle Management

graphical chart of the menstrual cycle showing hormonal changes across phases

Wondering whether your menstrual cycle influences your performance as a female athlete? And if it does, what can you do about it? We’ll explore whether or not your menstrual cycle has any affect on your performance as a female athlete as well as why you should consider tracking your cycle. 

Does your menstrual cycle affect performance? 

Let’s start by attempting to answer the question, ‘Does your menstrual cycle affect performance as a female athlete?’. 

This question is difficult to answer because there has been limited research or studies conducted on this subject. A recent study and analysis conducted in 2020 by McNulty concluded that performance in female athletes might be somewhat reduced during the early follicular phase (ie: when you have your period), however this research should be taken with a grain of salt because the quality of the evidence was poor and inconclusive. 

The thing is, there is a massive variation in the way the menstrual cycle affects women in general, female athlete or not. For instance, some women experience absolutely no symptoms during their period, whereas others become bedbound and experience awful cramps for a few days during their cycle. 

So how can you know for sure whether your menstrual cycle is affecting your performance as a female athlete? The answer lies in self-awareness. 

Have you noticed any changes in performance during your menstrual cycle?

In order to determine whether or not your menstrual cycle is affecting your performance as a female athlete, it’s time to pay closer attention to your cycle overall. It’s a good idea to start tracking your menstrual cycle so that you can identify any changes in performance throughout the month. 

Start tracking your menstrual cycle

It’s important for female athletes to identify any unique patterns or challenges that you experience throughout your menstrual cycle. This will give you a better idea when it comes to addressing how your menstrual cycle impacts your training and performance. 

So what kind of things should you start tracking then? Here are a few things to consider tracking: 

  • Duration of your menstruation
  • Any cramping 
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Bloating or heaviness 
  • Backaches
  • Motivation to train 
  • Energy levels
  • Emotional state
  • Performance changes 

Any sudden changes to your menstrual cycle are usually indicators that something in your body is out of balance. This could be your stress levels, nutrition or even your training. 

By tracking your menstrual cycles each month you’ll be able to identify the unique challenges or patterns you experience each month and how these changes are influenced by your training or the food you eat. This information can help you address those challenges ahead of time, so that you can keep performing at your best all month long. 

See how the Matildas manage their cycles

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