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menstrual cycle, hormonal, cycle, phase

How does the menstrual cycle influence women's training

Written by: Anu Munkhtur



Time to read 5 min

Keywords: menstrual cycle, hormonal, cycle, phase

The menstrual cycle impacts all women in the world, and its symptoms may vary. From headaches to weakness, moodiness and sleepiness, it can influence a woman’s day-to-day life greatly. Even more so if she trains frequently. How does the hormonal balance, and menstruation in particular, impact a lady’s performance in the gym? We'll debunk some common misconceptions about the menstrual cycle, shed light on the diversity of menstrual experiences, and discuss the influence of socio-economic and demographic factors on menstrual health education and resources. Let us dive into it.

1. Understanding the Phases of the Menstrual Cycle

The menstrual cycle, a vital part of female reproductive health, is regulated by a complex interaction of hormones and consists of three main phases: the follicular phase, ovulation, and the luteal phase. 

The follicular phase begins on the first day of menstruation and ends with ovulation, triggered by a surge in luteinizing hormone (LH). During this phase, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and estrogen work together to prepare the uterus to thicken its lining  and subsequently host an egg.

Ovulation occurs 1 4 days before menses and marks the release of the egg.

The luteal phase follows, characterized by a rise in progesterone levels stimulated by the LH hormone to prepare for the possible fertilized egg. If there is none such, the uterus sheds its lining  to release the unfertilized egg.

Hormonal balance is crucial in each phase for the cycle to function correctly. Imbalances, such as Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), characterized by high levels of male hormones, can disrupt the cycle and impact overall health. 

menstrual cycle, hormonal, cycle, phase

2. Debunking Common Misconceptions about the Menstrual Cycle

Contrary to popular belief, the menstrual cycle is not solely about having periods. It's a complex process that involves hormonal changes and varies significantly among individuals.

Factors such as age, body weight, race, and ethnicity  can influence the length and regularity of menstrual cycles.

For instance, data from the Harvard Chan Health Study revealed that menstrual cycles start out relatively long , around 30 days for younger people under 19 years old, and tend to become more regular with age.

However, after age 45, menstrual cycles start to become increasingly irregular.

The study also found that Asian and Hispanic participants had longer menstrual cycles and higher variability, and higher BMI was linked with longer cycle length and higher cycle variability.

These findings underscore the importance of personalized menstrual health education and resources, taking into account socio-economic and demographic factors. 

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Women's Health

3. Managing Menstrual Cycle Disruptions in Everyday Life

The menstrual cycle, while a natural process, can sometimes disrupt normal everyday functions due to common menstrual problems such as heavy periods ( menorrhagia) , painful periods ( dysmenorrhoea) , and premenstrual syndrome ( PMS ).

These conditions can cause symptoms like fluid retention, headaches, fatigue, irritability, and severe pain, which can interfere with daily activities.

However, there are several ways to manage these symptoms naturally.

Regular exercise and dietary changes  can help alleviate milder PMS symptoms, while pain-relieving medication can help manage dysmenorrhoea.

For heavy menstrual bleeding, oral contraceptives and other medication can help regulate the flow.

It's crucial to consult with a healthcare professional if you experience significant changes in your menstrual cycle or if your symptoms become debilitating. 

menstrual cycle, hormonal, cycle, phase

4.The Menstrual Cycle and Athletic Training: A Complex Relationship

The menstrual cycle's influence on athletic training is a complex topic that requires further research.

However, existing studies indicate that hormonal fluctuations during the menstrual cycle can impact various aspects of athletic performance, including metabolism changes.

For instance, over 87% of female soccer players in this study  reported negative effects, primarily during the first days of menstruation.

These symptoms, which can include fatigue, focus, weakness, and poor reaction to criticism , may lead to reduced training participation, potentially affecting skill development, communication and fitness levels. 

5. Maximizing Your Training During the Menstrual Cycle

During the follicular phase, which is the first half of your cycle, your body is primed for high-intensity strength training  due to lower hormone levels.

This phase is also when your body is more  carb-sensitive , making it an ideal time for endurance and cardio exercises.

On the other hand, the luteal phase, characterized by higher hormone levels, calls for lower-intensity workouts and increased recovery time.

Additionally, hydration is crucial during this phase to counter the increased risk of dehydration.

Understanding these hormonal shifts can help you optimize your training schedule, ensuring you get the most out of your workouts while also taking care of your body's needs.

menstrual cycle, hormonal, cycle, phase

6. Navigating Exercise During Your Period: What to Avoid and Why

While exercise can be beneficial during your period, there are certain activities you might want to avoid.

High-intensity workouts, such as heavy weightlifting or strenuous cardio, can exacerbate menstrual cramps and discomfort.

Research indicates that women may experience a dip in strength  during the early follicular phase (the first few days of your period).

Therefore, it may be beneficial to focus on low-impact exercises during this time, such as yoga, walking, or light cycling. 

7. Personalised Training: The Key to Optimising Women's Health and Performance

Ever feel like your days are a hormonal rollercoaster?

It's not just your imagination! Hormones play a major role in everything from your mood and energy levels to your thyroid function and fertility.

The  OptimallyMe Female Hormone Test  can help you understand what's going on beneath the surface. This test dives deep into nine key biomarkers , including:

  • Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH): Impacted by your ovulation cycle.

  • Progesterone: Provides insights into your menstrual cycles.

  • Total and Free Testosterone: Plays a crucial role in fertility, sex drive, bone growth, and more!

By analysing these hormones, you can gain valuable information about:

  • Mood swings: Identifying hormonal causes of mood fluctuations.

  • Energy Levels: Understanding what might be affecting your energy dips and spikes.

  • Thyroid Function: Gaining insights into potential thyroid issues.

  • Fertility: Getting a clearer picture of your reproductive health.

The  OptimallyMe Female Hormone Test  empowers you with the knowledge you need to make informed decisions about your health and well-being.

Find the answers you've been searching for and take control of your health! 

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