Ever so slightly weird

Highs and lows are a feature of any athlete’s career, but for some female contestants, these peaks and troughs in performance may come more regularly – driven by hormonal changes associated with their menstrual cycles.

Now, the English Institute of Sport (EIS) is seeking to level the playing field through the rollout of regular saliva testing to track the rise and fall of two key drivers of these monthly changes: oestrogen and progesterone.

Because of the hormones involved, the menstrual cycle underpins many aspects of a woman’s health, from her bone strength to her fertility, immune system and mental functioning. “If they don’t have a healthy menstrual cycle, it means for whatever reason, something’s not quite right,” said Dr Richard Burden, co-lead for female health at the EIS.

Not wholly and exactly, no. It’s common enough for women at absolute peak fitness (well, fitness for what, it ain’t evolutionary fitness but whatever) to not have menstrual cycles at all. Not enough body fat, d’ye see?

7 thoughts on “Ever so slightly weird”

  1. As women also produce testosterone, admittedly in much smaller quantities than men, I’d have thought that the levels of that hormone would have more effect on performance than the “female” ones.

  2. Has this only occurred to them now ?

    What were the East Germans spending all their time dping in the 70s and 80s ?

  3. Just read that last post back.

    You can read
    as either
    “doing” or “doping”
    It doesn’t make much difference.

  4. Baron J- i thought the Oest and P mask the effects of the T. So if they’re low then T effects more noticeable. Not sure it works on Athletes, but its supposed to be why post menopause women can get ‘taches, deeper voices and more strident.

  5. Tim is correct – I remember an elite athlete (no I wasn’t anywhere near her class she was more than ten minutes ahead of me in the only, half-marathon, race we both did but our elder sons attended the same NACG Group) telling me that when in serious training she didn’t have periods due to low iron levels. [Blowing my own weedy trumpet is not relevant but I was the least bad male runner among the parents so she treated me as a friend]
    So Dr Burden says something’s not right when she’s in the top handful of female half-marathoners? Err?

  6. the article is clearly referring to female athletes in some sports who do undergo menstruation. It seems to be a perfectly logical development in sports science where they are going to monitor the cycle and see if they can find some way of improving performance. After all, sports science went into monitoring sleep patterns:


    Not exactly a new topic either


    Study from 2006

    And one from 1983


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