As an athlete, what should I know about my menstrual cycle?
November 28, 2022
Here are 4 things all menstruating athletes should know about their cycles.
- Missing your cycle repeatedly can be a major red flag!
If you are training hard, you are not taking any hormonal contraceptives, and you have repeatedly missed your cycle for several months, this could be a sign that you have amenorrhea, aka the absence of menstruation.
Amenorrhea can occur for many reasons, but some that we want to be cautious of include Low Energy Availability (LEA) and RED-S. Athletes who are not consuming enough caloric intake to support their caloric output from exercise can oftentimes suffer from LEA, with amenorrhea being one of the first major signs because your body does not have enough energy to properly produce our sex hormones, as well as other hormones such as thyroid hormone.
If you are concerned that you may have amenorrhea, speak with a professional who can help you rule other potential health causes first.
If you’d like to learn more about LEA, check out our LEA Webinar or our 7 Day LEA Meal Plan!
- Period pain can be alleviated with some natural supplements!
If you often feel severe pain during menstruation, try supplementing with Vitamin E or Cramp Bark 3-5 days before your period. These 2 natural supplements have been shown to alleviate menstrual cramping. (For exact dosage, please work 1:1 with a professional.)
- Seed cycling can be beneficial for many menstrual cycle symptoms!
Seed cycling uses different seeds and oils that are more estrogen or progesterone inducing to help you mitigate hormonal menstrual cycle related issues like PCOS, ovulation struggles, and/or amenorrhea.
If you’d like to download our free Seed Cycling 101 PDF, click HERE.
- Nutrition recommendations can change during different phases of your menstrual cycle!
During the phases of your cycle, your body actually metabolizes different foods in different ways because of your fluctuating hormones!
For instance, during the luteal phase, both progesterone and estrogen peak. As a result, menstruators actually oxidize fats at a higher rate, however, oxidation for carbs will decrease. Carbs are instead stored at a higher rate. Additionally, menstruators’ resting energy expenditure (REE) will increase. So, for athletes who menstruate, during your luteal phase, you could increase your caloric intake with carb sources .
- Wohlgemuth, K. J., Arieta, L. R., Brewer, G. J., Hoselton, A. L., Gould, L. M., & Smith-Ryan, A. E. (2021). Sex differences and considerations for female specific nutritional strategies: a narrative review. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 18(1), 27. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12970-021-00422-8