How do Female Athletes Perform during Periods?

For every one of us who befriend the couch for days on end during our periods, there are those of us who plunge into a swimming pool, or get geared up to participate in a triathlon. Even if you are not anticipating going weight-lifting or rock-climbing anytime soon, it might be interesting to know how females perform athletic activities on periods. 

Overtime, several research studies were conducted to find multiple ways in which you can meet your workout goals without compromising on your health even if you are on your period. For instance using organic sanitary pads, makes working out during periods a more comfortable and safe experience by diminishing the chances of vaginal infection. Similarly period tracking apps allow you to be informed of your menstruation cycle and hence more in control of your bodily changes. Last but not the least, period side effects of headaches, bloating, cramps, mood swings, can also be reduced through personalised diet plans. The following are key factors every female athlete pays attention to during the professional course of their life.

Maintaining a High-Energy, Plant-Based Diet

Contradictory to one’s beliefs, female athletes require fat for muscle recovery, tissue growth, and the high performance of immune, reproductive, and nervous systems. Hence 25 – 35 % of total energy intake should be “high-performance” fats found in nuts, seeds, natural oils, olives and avocados. A diet rich in green, leafy vegetables keeps the iron and calcium levels raised to the recommended mark. Most importantly, female athletes must snack in between their workouts to maintain an optimum energy balance. Sticking with plant-based food helps female athletes maintain their ease in mobility, flexibility and suppleness. To know more about the diet of an athlete consider watching the newly-released documentary “The Game Changers.

Tracking your Period Cycle

Surprises are great, except for when they show up in your underpants minutes before your tennis tournament. Tracking your period over time helps you know your body better and predict the ways in which it will react once you start menstruating. Every athlete’s biggest investment is their body, since it is what helps them grow personally as well as professionally. They self-learn ways of combating premenstrual symptoms as well as cramps during periods in extremely quick and effective ways.

In addition to pre-ordering sanitary pads online, athletes find many advantages of predicting and tracking their period cycle. Stacy Sims, exercise physiologist and nutrition scientist at the University of Waikato in New Zealand, recommends understanding your period cycle to be better at dealing with the side effects. She supports her belief by giving an example of how pre-planning for your periods is a good idea. “This is a phase where your central nervous system fatigue is high and progesterone levels contribute to sodium loss….so you can manage that by increasing electrolyte intake, for instance.”

When given a chance, female athletes schedule their tournaments/matches according to their period calendars so as to ensure optimum performance. While they continue working out during periods, they also alter their work-out routine to accommodate slow stretches and exercises that help ease the inflammations caused by periods.

Prevention is Better than Cure

Athletes believe in taking measures to prevent any possible health-related interruptions during their sporting activity. Unlike women in other professional fields who work desk-jobs, female athletes cannot let an under-performing body stagnate in that condition for too long. They must act fast and bring it back on the road of recovery as soon as they detect a problem. To avoid being in that situation they predict possibilities of physical disruptions and always have a back-up plan B, C and maybe even D. 

For instance, female cyclists wear heating pads underneath their cycling jersey to prevent cramps if at all they were to get them. Athletes are also known to be relying on organic sanitary pads to prevent infections through other plastic products. Similarly, Georgie Bruinvels, an exercise physiologist at the sports research company Orreco, advises making simple changes to your diet to prevent a major fluctuation in hormones and body reactions if you are working out during periods. She says, “When women understand why they experience different symptoms at different phases in their cycles, they can adjust their approaches to nutrition and hydration. We believe that female athletes can perform on any day of their cycles by making the right changes for those particular hormonal variations.”

Using Birth Control during Competition

Doctors often advice women who are professionals in fields of intensive sporting activities to resort to oral contraceptives or birth control pills. However, one must only resort to oral contraceptives when prescribed by their gynecologists.

The pill is known to provide psychological relief by decreasing blood loss and reducing cramping and is hence an option many women opt for. While it also regulates your periods and makes tracking your cycle a lot easier, they too come with their share of drawbacks. They might cause weight gain which in return hampers with an athlete’s performance in any given sport. Additionally if you have a health history of blood clots, cancer, heart attacks, headaches etc. yourself or amongst relatives, you might be at a risk of more harmful side-effects of being on the pill.

Research has not been able to conclude whether being on the pill is for the greater good or harm, and so it is important to consult a doctor in regards to how it may affect your body. Every woman’s body reacts to every external input in very different ways, and hence it is never a wise decision to commit to something that you have more questions about than answers to.

Being Comfortable

The biggest lesson of all that we must learn from all female athletes, is how they strive for perfection in every aspect of their life. With regards to periods, there are many unpredictable outcomes, and so they do not compromise on their comfort during this uncertain time. They understand the benefits of organic pads and rely on natural products to keep themselves safe, hygienic and healthy. They hydrate adequately, get a good night’s sleep, and monitor their diet strictly to ensure optimum hormone levels.

 

Heyday admires female athletes and inspires every woman to pursue their passion without allowing their periods to cause any hindrance. By stocking your nearest grocery store with organic sanitary pads and ensuring you can buy sanitary pads online in the convenience of your home, Heyday promises you a hygienic and hassle-free period: one you won’t even realize has come.