Menstrual cycle symptoms have an impact on ability to train and compete

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Surprisingly here is very little data relating to the impact of the menstrual cycle on exercise performance. This week’s FastFact profiles a study, published in the BJSM, that has investigated both the types of symptoms experiences by exercising woman and the impact they have on their sporting participation.1

This survey based study involved a total of 6812 adult women of reproductive age (mean age: 38.3 (8.7) years) who were not using combined hormonal contraception. They were recruited via the Strava exercise app from seven geographical areas. The survey captured exercise behaviours, current menstrual status, presence and frequency of menstrual cycle symptoms, medication use for symptoms, perceived effects of the menstrual cycle on exercise and work behaviours and history of hormonal contraception use. Based on this survey the most prevalent menstrual cycle symptoms were mood changes/anxiety (90.6%), tiredness/fatigue (86.2%), stomach cramps (84.2%) and breast pain/tenderness (83.1%). Based on the study’s results it appears that these symptoms have an impact on an athlete’s ability to play or train. A number of symptoms (when adjusting for age, BMI and training volume) were significantly associated with missing/changing training, missing a sporting event/competition, missing work/lectures and pain medication use.

Support staff need to be aware of the impact that menstrual cycle symptoms can have on exercising women. This study’s authors highlight that these symptoms are very common and suggest that clinicians should more actively screening for these symptoms and look for strategies to help manage them more effectively. This may include better planning or training sessions, planning recovery as well as exploring other non-pharmacological and medical treatment options. More research is also needed to better understand the aetiology of many of the common symptoms and to develop evidence based interventions to either prevent or treat them.

As part of the study the authors developed an assessment tool to help quantify symptom burden. This was named the Menstrual Symptom index (MSi) and is based on the presence and frequency of 18 commonly reported symptoms (range 0–54, where 54 would correspond to all 18 symptoms each occurring very frequently). It is hoped that this may be the first step in the development of a screening tool that could be used to help quantify menstrual cycle symptoms and be used to measure the efficacy of treatment.

It should be noted that there are a number of methodological limitations associated with this study, including a limited response rate, the self-reporting and the reliance on the Strava app. It should be noted that the participants in this study were not football players and as a result may not represent this group of exercising women. On the other hand, the large sample size and the geographical spread of participants are clear strengths.

To learn more about the health needs of female players complete the “Female Athlete’ modules in the FIFA Diploma of Football Medicine.

References
1. Bruinvels G, Goldsmith E, Blagrove R, et al Prevalence and frequency of menstrual cycle symptoms are associated with availability to train and compete: a study of 6812 exercising women recruited using the Strava exercise app British Journal of Sports Medicine Published Online First: 16 November 2020. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2020-102792

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Bangoura
Bangoura
25 November 2020 14:24

LES FEMMES SONT DIFFERENTES EN MATIERES DE MENSTRUES QUI QUELQUE PART EST CONSIDEREE COMME TABOU. LES MENSTRUES SONT UN PHENOMENE PHYSIOLOGIQUE CARACTERISTIQUE A LA RACE HUMAINE ET A CERTAIN MAMIFERES. ELLES SE PRODUISENT DE FACON CYCLIQUE CORRESPONDANT A UN ECOULEMENT SANGUIN SURVENANT TOUS LES MOIS CHEZ LES FEMMES BIEN REGLERS LE CYCLE EST DE 28 JOURS EN MOYENNE.IL PEUT ETRE PLUS LONG OU PLUS COURT.. DANS CERTAINES DISCIPLINES COMME LE LANCER IL EST ETABLIT QUE LES REGLES ON T UNE UNE TRES BONNE INFLUENCE SUR LA PERFORMANCE LE DYNAMISME PEUT ETRE AFFECTE DIFFERAMMENT SELON LES FEMMES.. LES SYMPTOMES LES PLUS… Read more »

Dr Steven Griffith
26 November 2020 9:39

I think the opposite view is more radical thinking. We should be looking at the 10-15 of women who have none of these problems and symptoms, identify what they do differently and pushing that into sports psychology and coaching. If 1 in 10 are doing something better why not enhance that to 9 in 10 no symptoms and 1 in 10 symptoms, this would be even better for sport. Unless we are about pain management with medication then it is a boom market for drugs in sport.

alialawade
26 November 2020 10:38

thankyou very mach

Khamanyane Mohanoe
26 November 2020 11:15

Thanks for the information

Christopher W
Christopher W
28 November 2020 18:25

typo in first sentence (there is little data, not here is little data)

Chakib
28 November 2020 21:09

Pour les femmes sportives qui ont des sigles du régle mensuel régulier elles ont des performances parfaite les autres femmes qui ont des sigles dur régle perturbé par leurs hormones n ont pas des performances dans des compétitions officielles et dans les entraînements et préparation physique et elles ont besoin d un médecin de l équipes ou un Gynécologue pour le suivis et reporter leurs règles dans compétitions internationales.

Mohamed Ahmed Mohamed
29 November 2020 9:31

I think the opposite view is more radical thinking. We have to look at 10 to 15 women who do not suffer from any of these problems and symptoms, and define what they are doing differently and drive that to lack of good physical and muscular preparation and unplanned high intensity training. If 1 in 10 does something better, why not increase it to 9 out of 10 no symptoms and 1 in 10 symptoms, then this would be better for exercise. Unless we talk about pain management with vigorous physical preparation.

andrea clarke
04 December 2020 13:50

Reading some of the comments, I think there may be a lack of understanding of the menstrual cycle. Feeling tired/fatigued during your bleed is not a symptom, it is a call from your body to take it easy & reduce phsyical actvity, so that your womb/uterus can do what it’s meant to do ~ release blood with an easy flow. Experience from working with clients shows that when we self care and rest at these times, many symptoms like pain and cramping can be significantly reduced. There are I know a few women’s football teams which are beginning to uderstand… Read more »