Understanding the Relationship between Menstrual Cycle and Performance

Menstrual cycle's impact on exercise performance is usually insignificant for athletes, personalized approach recommended.

How Menstrual Cycle Affects Young Female Athletes: A Guide for Coaches and Parents

As a coach or parent of a young female athlete, you may have questions about how her menstrual cycle affects her performance. In this guide, we will explain how changes in hormone levels during the menstrual cycle can impact exercise performance and what you can do to support your athlete.
The menstrual cycle typically lasts for around 28 days and has three phases:

1. Early Follicular Phase: During this phase, hormone levels are low.
2. Ovulatory Phase: Hormone levels fluctuate, with oestrogen being high and progesterone being low.
3. Mid-Luteal Phase: Hormone levels are high.

Studies have shown that exercise performance may be slightly reduced during the early follicular phase. This effect is small and may not significantly impact most young female athletes. However, it's essential to monitor and understand your athlete's individual response to exercise across her menstrual cycle.

Many female athletes use oral contraceptives to manage the physical and emotional symptoms of their menstrual cycle. Although these pills can help alleviate symptoms, their long-term effects on health and performance are not yet known. It's important to discuss the use of contraceptives with your athlete's healthcare provider and evaluate their potential impact on performance.As a coach or parent, it's crucial to create an environment where your athlete feels comfortable discussing their menstrual cycle. Encourage them to keep track of their cycle and any symptoms that may impact their performance. Provide access to menstrual products and appropriate facilities during training and competitions.

In conclusion, the menstrual cycle is one factor that can impact exercise performance, but it's unlikely to be a significant factor for most young female athletes. With the right support and guidance, young female athletes can reach their full potential, regardless of their menstrual cycle.

Female athletes often wonder how their menstrual cycle affects their performance. The menstrual cycle involves changes in the levels of two essential hormones, oestrogen and progesterone, which can affect exercise performance. In this article, we’ll explore the relationship between the menstrual cycle and exercise performance.

Understanding the Menstrual Cycle

The menstrual cycle lasts 28 days and is divided into three phases:

1. Early follicular phase: During this phase, oestrogen and progesterone levels are low.
2. Ovulatory phase: Oestrogen levels are high, and progesterone levels are low.
3. Mid-luteal phase: Oestrogen and progesterone levels are high.

Does the Menstrual Cycle Affect Performance?

Studies on the effect of the menstrual cycle on exercise performance have produced inconsistent results. Our recent study analysed previous research to determine whether exercise performance is affected by changes in hormone levels caused by different menstrual cycle phases. Our investigation found 78 studies that included data from 1193 participants. However, 42% of these studies fell into the "low quality of evidence" category. The results of our study show that exercise performance may be slightly reduced during the early follicular phase compared to all other phases. However, the size of the effect is trivial, meaning that it is too small to make a significant impact for most sportswomen.

What Does This Mean for Female Athletes?

While the menstrual cycle may slightly affect exercise performance, the effects are likely to be so small as to be meaningless for most female athletes. The difference may only have relevance for elite athletes, where the margin between winning and losing is minimal. However, practitioners working with elite sportswomen should be aware of potential times during the cycle when exercise performance may be reduced, such as the early follicular phase.

Practical Implications

For many athletes, the effect of the menstrual cycle on performance may be much smaller than previously assumed. There may be a psychological advantage in not worrying about the menstrual cycle's impact on performance. It's worth noting that many sportswomen use oral contraceptives, which can result in a different hormonal profile. While oral contraceptives can reduce or eliminate several adverse physical and emotional side-effects associated with the menstrual cycle, their long-term health and performance implications are unknown.


In conclusion, the menstrual cycle is just one aspect of the female athlete profile that can affect exercise performance. Practitioners should take a personalised approach to each athlete, tracking and considering their individual responses to exercise performance across the menstrual cycle. By doing so, female athletes can maximise the rewards and minimise the risks, allowing them to reach their full potential.

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