Menstrual Cycle and Sports

Original Editor - Sultan Eylem Demirhan

Top Contributors - Sultan Eylem Demirhan  

Introduction[edit | edit source]

Researchers and athletes consider that the menstrual cycle has an impact on the performance of athletes. That's why research in this field is increasing. However, results are still inconsistent as to whether significant changes of athletes' performance during the menstrual cycle are due to physiological variation (fluctuations of sex hormones). Tracking athletes' menstrual cycles and symptoms can be an important consideration for optimizing performance and maintaining the health of female athletes.[1]

Aspects of Performance[edit | edit source]


Because of their neuroexcitatory and inhibitory effects, estrogen and progesterone have a positive and negative relationship with force production. Estrogen has a neuroexcitatory effect, while progesterone inhibits cortical excitability.[2]

Acute increases in testosterone can enhance physical performance via improved neural activation[3]


There are differences in the sense of proprioception due to changes in the concentration of sex hormones (progesterone and estrogen) at different stages of the menstrual cycle.[4]


The Menstrual Cycle phases can also have a notable effect on rapid force generation. Muscle activation, particularly initial motor unit firing rate, is the main determinant of rapid force generation required to perform explosive movements.[3]

How to detect Menstrual Cycle Phases[edit | edit source]

  • Calender-based counting method
  • Urinary LH (Luteinising Hormone) test: To determine the phase of Ovulation
  • Blood tests to measure serum levels of estrogen and progesterone[1]

Menstrual Cycle-Based Training Program[edit | edit source]

Strength can be developed by overloading the neuromuscular system through resistance training program. Recently, there is a discussion that training program which is optimized according to the athletes' menstrual cycle would be more beneficial. For instance, one study with two groups: Group 1, did the resistance exercises in the first two weeks of the menstrual cycle and Group 2 did in the last 2 weeks of the menstrual cycle. They observe a significant increase in outcomes with the group 1, who did the training in the first two weeks of the cycle.[5] This situation refers to the high level of estrodiol in first two weeks in the menstrual cycle. Estradiol enhances the ability of muscle fibers to produce force, which is a skeletal muscle's intrinsic quality. [2]

  • Therefore, it is crucial to know that the female athletes may adjust their resistance training individually in connection to their menstrual cycle when creating periodized resistance training regimens.

How to monitor athletes' cycle[edit | edit source]

In professional sports, routine MC phase monitoring is being used more and more frequently. The United States' Women's National Soccer and Swimming Teams , as well as Chelsea Football Club, have lately started employing a commercial smartphone app to track athletes' menstrual cycle phases. There is commercial smartphone apps to record when menstruation and various menstrual symptoms (such as menstrual pain or fatigue etc.) occur.[3]

Resources[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1. Janse DE Jonge X, Thompson B, Han A. Methodological recommendations for menstrual cycle research in sports and exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2019;51(12):2610–7.
  2. 2.0 2.1 1. Lowe DA, Baltgalvis KA, Greising SM. Mechanisms behind estrogens’ beneficial effect on muscle strength in females. Exercise and sport sciences reviews. 2010;38.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Carmichael MA, Thomson RL, Moran LJ, Wycherley TP. The impact of menstrual cycle phase on athletes’ performance: A narrative review. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 202;18(4):1667.
  4. Hesar NGZ, Calders P, Thijs Y, Roosen P, Witvrouw E. The influence of menstrual cycle on ankle proprioception. Isokinet Exerc Sci. 2008;16(2):119–23.
  5. Wikström-Frisén L, Boraxbekk CJ, Henriksson-Larsén K. Effects on power, strength and lean body mass of menstrual/oral contraceptive cycle based resistance training. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2017;57(1–2):43–52.