There is no formal evidence that says “menstruation is linked to underperformance” in running, or other high endurance sports. However, the hormonal increase in women’s bodies can make it more difficult for the muscles to access oxygen. Other performance measurements are mostly unaffected.
What Happens In Your Body During PMS?
Menstruation is tied to hormonal cycles. Hormone levels drop during the first phase of menstruation, which actually occurs just before the onset of menstruation. This can cause women to have disruptive symptoms that affect certain aspects of women’s training routines. We refer to this as premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
Symptoms can include:
- Breast sensitivity
- Water retention
- Behavioral changes
Other physical signs can include:
Bone and joint pain, headaches, and digestive symptoms like nausea, constipation, or diarrhea.
Cramping During Periods
Cramping is a real… pain. And cramping pertains to all the different pains that occur during menstruation.
Studies show us that cramping affects between 30 and 50% of all women of reproductive age. This certainly applies to a large number of women runners and athletes.
In good news, estrogen increases can actually have a positive effect on your energy levels. Your energy levels should be at their highest point during the ovulation phase (around day 14). For high-endurance sports, estrogen promotes energy storage in muscles, as well as the entry of glucose into muscle cells.
Tips For Women Athletes During Menstruation
Pharmaceuticals & Alternative Medicine
First and foremost, ask your doctor for advice on taking pain medication during your period. Doctors often prescribe simple pain relievers such as Tylenol, or minute doses of drugs like Ibuprofen. Aspirin increases the risk of bleeding, so do not take it during your period.
You may also turn to alternative medicine treatments like homeopathy, phytotherapy, etc.
Many women athletes use contraceptives as they are intended, for birth control. However, contraceptives can be used to control menstrual cycles as well.
The best advice is to talk with your doctor before changing or using a new contraceptive method. Make sure you talk about your running and training routines and get personal advice.
Adapt Your Training So You Can Continue Running To Exercise During Your Period
If you experience painful periods or are more tired before or during your period, listen to your body. Don’t put yourself in a tough situation. However, if you’ve got the urge to burn off some steam, don’t hesitate to get a workout in.
Running and training during menstruation is totally possible. Its link to poor performance is not proven. The truth is that ever woman experiences her period differently. It is up to each of us to adapt our training approach to our current physical and mental condition.