All women dread that certain time of the month. Many women feel like crawling into bed and not speaking to anyone for a week, let alone do any kind of physical activity. So how do female athletes play under the pain and suffering of their cycles and does it affect their performance at all?
A New York Times article discusses how or if the menstrual cycle affects the athleticism of female athletes. Because women have not been participating in athletic events for very long, the research on female athletics is still in its infancy.
A study researching female rowers in Europe found that they measured the same in strength, endurance, and overall fitness in every point of their cycles. Some of the women were on birth control, which affects the production of estrogen, and some were not. Some of the women were professional athletes and others were not. Each woman could perform the same whether she was ovulating, menstruating or somewhere in between.
This research is so vital to the female athlete because there has been so much disagreement on whether or not the athlete should get on or off the pill, and that their endurance is much greater during certain times during the cycle (although the exact time has been debated, as well.)
Warren Potash, a specialist in exercise therapy and sports nutrition in the Los Angeles area, thinks that unless there are certain circumstances, the menstrual cycle should not affect the athlete’s performance.
“Here’s the bottom line. No matter what the effects of the menstrual cycle, games can’t be scheduled around it,” Potash said.
Potash spends his life training young female athletes and runs a website to bring his knowledge and expertise to the rest of the world about training effectively and safely. While he says that the menstrual cycle does not affect athleticism for most females, it can in some very rare and extreme cases. His advice is to go to the gynecologist immediately.
“If you had a young lady and she’s an athlete who is not overly trained and has a genetic history from her mom or grandma of having a terrible time during ovulation, I’ve seen wonderful things happen when the parent takes the youngster to a gynecologist. Within 60 to 90 days you think you’re dealing with a whole new individual,” Potash said.
Although women show the same strength, agility, and grace in athletics as men do, a trainer cannot train a female the same as a male. If a female athlete is educated about how their body works during training and how to safely play sports, then nothing should get in her way.