Women and Sports – The Menstruation Cycle

Why is it sometimes sports women can perform at their peak and yet other days be flat and susceptible to injury? If we take a look at the females menstruation cycle we can get an insight into how to plan the optimum training and competing regime to allow for peak performance.

The average women’s menstruation cycle lasts 28 days and in that period 4 different cycles occur. Day 1 is the day menstruation begins (the blood flow) this normally lasts between 3 – 5 days. Some classic symptoms during these few days are – abdominal bloating/cramping, back pain, mood swings and fatigue. So when girls/women are at this stage, training and competing at their peak is a struggle, they may feel uncoordinated, unmotivated, heavy, and no energy. It is important from the athletes and coaches perspective to lighten the load of training and or competition as the likely hood of injury is heightened.

During day 13 – 15 ovulation is taking place and this is the time when the female body is at its peak in terms of performance and increased arousal levels. Research and anecdotal evidence has shown that this is the optimum time to achieve peak performance.

Menstruation also throws up other issues that all women need to deal with like: low iron levels, PMS, Oligmenorrhoea and Amenorrhoea.

Some coaches and older female athletes use the method of tracking their cycles and using the contraception pill as a method of regulating and coinciding when their peak times will occur. For example ensuring that ovulation occurs on our about when a major competition is on. Keeping a track of your menstrual cycle is useful and ideally linking it with your training diary will provide you with an insight into when you personally are at your peak.

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