Nature has given us women a great opportunity to give life. An indispensable condition for this gift is the menstrual cycle. In this article we will see the impact of our rules on our sporting performance.
Menstrual Cycle – Back to Basics
The average duration of the menstrual cycle is 28 days and consists of different phases, during which 4 different hormones fluctuate. Here we will only focus on estrogen and progesterone.
The menstrual cycle is accompanied by premenstrual and menstrual syndromes. 85% of women go through this at least once, to one degree or another. They take many forms: pain, lack of energy, mood changes, bloating, water retention or, in 3-8% of cases, temporary depression. Their severity varies from woman to woman.
For female athletes, the good news is that regular physical activity can help reduce these symptoms.
If cramps and headaches are part of your premenstrual symptoms, adding magnesium a few days before your period starts may help.
Training & Productivity
The results of the studies carried out vary greatly. Overall, the impact of our menstrual cycle on our performance is more related to the severity of premenstrual symptoms and our motivation than to physiological changes and different phases of the cycle.
Activities such as cardio or high intensity are not affected by our menstrual cycles.
However, it should be noted that during the luteal phase, our body temperature is higher due to the increase in progesterone levels. This leads to an increase in breathing rate. classes seem more difficult to us, and fatigue sets in faster.
Strength and muscle gain
Our maximum strength does not change during the menstrual cycle. On the other hand, our ability to gain strength and muscle mass would be slightly more important during the follicular phase. This can be explained by the difference in muscle damage and recovery.
Risk of injury
Generally, women have a higher risk of injury than men. Added to this is the fact that estrogens slightly increase joint and ligament weakness, which increases the risk of injury. progesterone is more likely to play a protective role.
It may also happen that during the premenstrual period we are more awkward due to a decrease in concentration associated, among other things, with a lack of energy.
Food and cravings
Hormones affect our appetite. While estrogen tends to decrease our appetite, progesterone tends to increase it.
This explains why we can eat a little more during the luteal phase because our progesterone levels are higher. According to research, that’s roughly 90 to 500 extra calories. The good news is that overall we burn 89 to 279 more calories: our temperature is higher, our energy expenditure and our basic metabolism increase slightly.
It’s important to be a little more aware of what we eat during this period, for various reasons:
– high progesterone levels promote lipid accumulation
– our insulin sensitivity may be slightly lower
– our serotonin levels may be lower
Eating carbohydrates relieves premenstrual symptoms. In addition, there is a sense of taste that develops during the cycle. For example, chocolate will smell better and tastier.
Increasing your carbohydrate intake (replacing some of the fat) and making the dark chocolate square can help satisfy your desires and make your premenstrual symptoms more bearable.
Impact of contraception
There are many methods of contraception: oral or not; with hormones (in different concentrations) or not. Each person’s reaction and comfort in the face of its consequences is very individual.
As a rule, contraception regulates the change in hormones and, therefore, their effect on our body.
In terms of performance, research reports that a negative feeling of performance during menstruation is more associated with a lack of energy and concentration than a decrease in strength or endurance. Contraceptive methods can, however, help limit premenstrual and menstrual symptoms and the effects of hormonal changes.
There is no difference in strength or muscle gain between women who use hormonal contraception and those who do not.
Things to remember
Gold medals have been won and women have set records at every stage of their cycle.
The severity of premenstrual and menstrual symptoms affects our work more than physiological changes. Birth control does not affect performance or exercise ability.