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?