HomeHealth & FitnessHow can menstruation affect female athletes physically and mentally?

How can menstruation affect female athletes physically and mentally?

While discussing the various physical and mental struggles that an athlete has to face both on and off the field, little attention is paid to how women players manage menstruation During his intense training sessions and matches. Their monthly cycles often expose them to a number of complications – physical and psychological – but this issue affects almost the entire woman. Play ecosystem, usually brushed under the carpet. Veteran Indian cricketer Jhulan Goswami opened up about it in a recent episode WV. Wednesday withHosted by WV Raman, former Indian cricketer and former coach of India women’s national cricket team.

“I think that [menstruation] The most challenging part is as a female athlete and I think all athletes face the same kind of things and if it is during the reckoning time, then replenishing that area and focusing on their job It was a big challenge.” goswami Said on the show. “It’s challenging for every female athlete in this world, and that’s why we say female athletes are very special. She has a lot of body pain and it’s challenging to do this kind of physical activity. It’s huge on match days.” The task happens. I think it takes a lot of courage to come out of that situation and play and be there for six hours on the cricket field.

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Calling it “a big challenge for the girls”, the fast bowler explained that the nature of the job does not allow them to be in the room, in the bed and take proper rest. “You have to go and play an important match. That can’t be an excuse. physio and doctor play a big role in this. It is common. We can’t complain about it. We accept and we prepare in the same way. We try not to try any more. We can’t give any excuse for this.”

Indian athlete and Padma Shri awardee Deepa Malik said, “When I was a swimmer, it was even more challenging. Sometimes, your contest dates clash with your menstrual cycle and no one is asking you when they make up the contest timetable. When I was preparing for my 3rd Asia Para Games, one of the big challenges I faced was. I was 48 years old and was bleeding 15 days a month because I was going through menopause.”

He said that due to his physical and emotional involvement in sports and winning medals for the country, it became easier for him to deal with menstruation. “I had a healthy menstrual cycle because I was exercising regularly. I never took menstruation as a challenge and that is exactly what we need to share with other women,” Malik said.

However, without adequate rest, prolonged physical activity during periods can take a toll on a sportsperson’s well-being and performance. According to Dr. Gyanashree BR, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynecologist, Apollo Hospitals, Seshadripuram, Bangalore“Up to 50 percent of elite and non-elite athletes report a perception of poor performance menstrual cycle,

female athlete menstruating Athletes tend to have postponed periods, reduced flow or develop amenorrhea (source: Pixabay)

Did you know that such intense training also makes them more prone to injury? Explaining this, Dr. Birbala Rai, Senior Gynecologist and Laparoscopic Surgeon, PSRI Hospital, New Delhi said, “At that time ovulation, estrogen levels are at their highest. Ovulation is the midpoint of the cycle. So the late follicular phase and the ovulatory phase are the ones that are important for athletes. This is because there is a loosening of the ligaments at that time and knee injury can occur.”

A 2021 study on female footballers, published in frontiersalso found that fluctuations in reproductive hormones can affect tissues such as muscles, tendons and ligaments. “The injury incidence rate ratio showed that the rate of muscle and tendon injury was 88 percent higher in the late follicular phase than in the follicular phase, in which muscle breakdown/tears/tension/convulsions And tendon injury/rupture occurs more than twice as often during the late follicular phase compared to other phases,” it noted.

Dr Rai said that a woman is also prone to injury during menstruation as she has less energy during this period. “A woman may also experience a lot of pain or dysmenorrhea (heavy menstrual bleeding). It can distract his attention and lead to potential injuries,” she said.

According to Anita Kant, President of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Asian Hospital, Faridabad, “Although prolonged and strenuous exercise during menstruation does not cause harm, anecdotal evidence suggests that athletes may have periods, reduced flow or developmental delay. it occurs. amenorrhea,

When it comes to the impact on their performance due to their menstrual cycle, Dr. Gyanshree said it depends on several factors. “How menstruation affects a female athlete’s performance is highly individualized as fluid retention, weight gain, mood swings etc. vary from person to person and more research is needed to optimize the results.”

female athlete menstruating “People start criticizing but no one knows the story behind,” Goswami said. (Source: Getty Images/Thinkstock)

Apart from the physical effects, the menstrual cycle also has a mental impact on female athletes as this topic is still taboo and athletes are not expected to complain about them. discomfort during this time. Throwing light on the same, Goswami said: “During that time, you are not able to concentrate much, not able to give much, but other people do not know. People start criticizing but no one knows the story behind.

Dr Sanjana Kiran, a high-performance sports psychologist who has worked with nearly 200 Olympians, said that when athletes complain, they are seen as someone who is “not dedicated enough, not passionate enough.” “Not focused, not willing to give their all and not having enough perseverance”. “This is usually seen as an excuse and they are rarely given the benefit of the doubt. But, why would an athlete want to waste ? Training session?”

What happens, according to sports psychologists, is when female players push through their menstrual cycles, depending on the intensity and symptoms of their periods, they become exhausted and not able to give their best. “This kind of adds to their mood swings that are already happening hormonal are shifted inside their body over which they do not have much control. So, menstruation is also a time when you do not want to take extra stress as your body is already going through some amount of weakness due to your menstruation. Mentally too, you are not feeling as well, so it makes the situation worse. After the cycle, you may be a little tired because there is a lot of blood loss and not all bodies recover fast.”

The taboo subject only adds to the misery of female athletes, as they are often unable to communicate their concerns. “When I was young, I couldn’t share all these things with my coaches and had to fight everything quietly,” Goswami said.

Addressing the issue, Dr Kiran said, “During menstruation, rigid body movement not good. Which causes you a lot of trouble. To add to this, if this is something that is not talked about, how do you bring it up, especially to your male coaches? Ideally, this should not be a taboo subject, but we should be sensitive to the cultural backgrounds of many women. How do they get through it? All women’s sports teams, assuming their head coach is a male person, do not have a female person/official/assistant coach in that ecosystem. So, it gets really, really hard. This is an issue that most of my female athletes from around the world have raised in our conversations.”

In addition, she highlighted the lack of infrastructure in the country that could enable female athletes to “make it a little less difficult for female athletes to clean up, replace or whatever they may have to do”. The sports psychologist said that many athletes also postpone their periods, which has long-term effects on their health.

female athlete menstruating Dr Kiran stressed the need for open communication between the athletes and the officials concerned. (source: Pixabay)

To address these issues, Goswami called for substantial research to help women during their periods. “It’s something that people should accept and research properly and see how we can improve. There’s a lot of science, so if you can come out and make sure that, that’s about the time. During the course, they can get some adjustments in things. Match time, training time – these are things that can be looked into because everyone wants to be fresh in competition time,” she said.

Agreeing, Dr Rai said, “I would suggest that authorities should focus on the health of female athletes and also the phases of the menstrual cycle so that they can engage in intense training around the ovulatory or menstrual phase of their cycle. According to the expert, this is necessary to avoid injury and give female athletes more longevity in their careers.

For the same, Dr Kiran stressed on the need for open communication between the athletes and the officials concerned. “It is important to find a way to communicate this to the coach or the person supervising your training. Secondly, athletes can monitor their menstrual cycles so that they can adjust training loads in consultation with trainers, because when you are menstruating. Therefore, it is important to educate the athlete about what can happen, what can go wrong, and how to have a conversation about it. But more importantly, it’s important to educate the sports ecosystem—helping them understand what periods are like, how painful cramps can be, how heavy the flow can be, and how much painkillers to take in one go. Not good for women’s health.”

Malik asked the women to “be careful with the drugs they are using, keep in touch with their sports medicine doctor and keep a very close watch on the list of NADA and WADA banned drugs. If these medicines are required, You are required to fill out your Medical Use Exemption (TUE) certificate.

Agreeing with Dr Kiran, Malik also highlighted the need for clear communication between an athlete and his coach. “There should be sensitivity to menstruation in the sports ecosystem. There should be clear communication about the planning of training and exercise sessions. Even athletes have to overcome their shyness and voice their concerns. It is still taboo and women still hide their sanitary napkins. I would encourage girls to talk about their health related issues. We may also have more female sports medicine doctors in the ecosystem. If more women join in, communication will become easier,” she said.

If it is managed well, athletes can focus on their performance without compromising their health, Dr Kiran concluded.

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