We all know women have menstrual cycles. This blog may be awkward to read for some, but if you have met Ashlyn & Sarah- you’ve seen how they talk about feet and other things with the body. To them, this is just a normal conversation. When it comes to this they will actually argue it should be a normal conversation women should be having with any healthcare professional.
Dr. Stacy Sims stated that only 9% of women have been talked to about their menstrual cycle in regards to training by their trainer or coach. NINE PERCENT! Only 23% understand their hormones during their menstrual cycle! No one takes time to talk to women about hormones and their effect on the body.
Honestly, we were super excited to find out our WHOOP band calculated our daily strain based upon where we were in our menstrual cycle. It is actually what pushed us to do some more research into the topic of menstrual cycle and training, for our own benefit. We realized we are two women who did not know nearly enough about this. Once we did the research though, we decided it would probably be beneficial to share with you what we found. Especially for our active female audience!
Ladies- Did you know your body is resilient to stress during your period? We honestly didn’t know this until after reading a recent article published on Whoop.com titled why you should workout during your period. (Click below to read more).
Why You Should Workout During Your Period | WHOOP
In this image below, it breaks down the different stages of our menstrual cycle. Which stage a woman is in will coincide with the levels of hormone production which can highly influence our training intensity, recovery, sleep, and nutrition.
The hormones we will be highlighting during the female menstrual cycle are as follows:
Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), Luteinizing hormone (LH), Testosterone, Progesterone, and Estrogen.
- Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) causes maturation of an egg in the ovary and stimulates estrogen production
- Luteinizing hormone (LH) stimulates the release of the egg and stimulates estrogen and progesterone production.
- Testosterone in women is produced by ovaries and adrenal glands
- Progesterone- A hormone that stimulate the uterus to prepare for pregnancy
- Estrogen- A hormone that develops and regulates female characteristics within the human body.
Okay, now let’s dive deeper now that we provided you with a general overview.
Let’s start with the early follicular stage.
During this stage, testosterone is at its highest, while estrogen and progesterone are at their lowest. Therefore, you can synthesize muscle better and recover more efficiently during your period than at any other point of the month. However, sleeping may be more difficult so this will be a priority during this stage. What we mean by that is making sure your spending adequate time in bed
Next, Late Follicular stage.
During this stage, the body is preparing for ovulation. This is where you can prioritize quality warm up routines and strength based training. We’d advise you to limit extensive cardiovascular training during this time as your tolerance to that strain will be lower during this stage.
Early Luteal stage.
Here is where estrogen and progesterone increase. The body will allocate energy to the egg produced. Since the body is prioritizing energy to support the newly released egg, you may find it harder to recover from workouts. If you are someone focusing on pain management & injury prevention, it would be beneficial to prioritize quality warm ups again and lighter strength training to see how your body reacts.Sleeping won’t be impacted during this stage or the Late Follicular stage. However, we will encourage consistent wake-sleep cycles, always!
Late Luteal Stage
This is where we see the most fluctuation in the hormones. This is where the body will use more energy than normal in response to the fluctuations. Don’t expect it to be out of the norm if you notice an increase in being sluggish or fatigued. With that being said, recovery from work outs is going to be that much harder. A way to counteract this is to increase water intake to be more than that of your normal and prioritize electrolytes. Sarah uses LMNT in her daily routine. Ashlyn uses Ultima in her daily routine. They sometimes find themselves using a second scoop/packet during this stage. It is important to note that you may feel the need to spend an increased amount of time in bed. Even if you are a person who is consistent with their sleep-wake cycles, during this time you may need to extend your time in bed to optimize recovery.
We attached a study to further support hormone production during the previously mentioned stages.
Patterns of endogenous and exogenous ovarian hormone modulation on recovery metrics across the menstrual cycle | BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine
We will add that depending on if you are taking an oral contraceptive pill or a form of “birth control” this will change the hormones during these stages. For example if you are on a progesterone birth control pill that will have to be considered with your training.
If you’d like more details about this Dr. Stacy Sims goes into detail about it on the Whoop Podcast. She even gives tips on how to help PMS. Check it out.
Sleep & Training Based on Menstrual Cycle | WHOOP Podcast
We hope this article can spark some conversation and help women when it comes to strength and cardiovascular training in order to prioritize appropriately to optimize function and reach their goals!