Lifestyle & Nutrición

Menstrual cycle and sports’ performance

This subject has always casted doubts. In the last Olympic Games a Chinese swimmer publicly complained about the discomfort she had for competing while on her period. A year ago, a British tennis player also brought it up after she lost her round in the Australian Open.

There’s no evidence this is the cause of their losses, probably not, but it does influence the psychological aspect, the athletes’ comfort and obviously their training rhythm. But if we were to analyze this phenomenon hormonally, it turns out there are phases of the cycle that actually benefit the performance.

During premenstrual phases, prostaglandins increase. Such increment causes apathy and irritability. Some women even go through cephalous, sickness, menstrual cramps… But we cannot generalize. There even are women who don’t experience any hassle and do not experience noticeable mood swings.

In the phases where there is a lot of progesterone can cause the athletic performance to decrease, since this hormone is catabolic. But it has been observed that the best performance occurs in those phases where there’s an increase of the estrogens levels, in other words, the fertile period in women.

Exercise contributes to the production of endorphins (natural opiates that prevent and relief the pain). Women who practice sport in a regular basis produce lower levels of prostaglandins, so sportswomen experience less hassles and pains related to the menstruation.

All the “It hurts”, “I’ll stay at home” or “I can’t train today” are just excuses. World records and Olympic records have been established in every single phase of the menstrual cycle. Based on this, there’s a solid reason to defend that the higher level of training, the least effect each phase of the menstrual cycle has in a woman.

It is normal in athletes to suffer delays of their first period or to have intermittent. This is due to low percents of fat present some women. This must be controlled by specialized professionals, but generally do not cause major issues.

Keeping good eating habits is key. When you are in your period it is recommended to increment your ingestion in rich-in-water food, like fruit and vegetables; high in on and proteins like beans, and rich in omega 3 like fish and seaweed.

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