Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Monitor symptoms and control rest: the keys of medicine to deal with menstruation in elite sport

When athletes talk about as the menstruation affects the day to day of your workouts all agree on a very basic requirement: that Increase scientific studies focused on alleviating side effects of the period. The data speaks for itself: since the 1950s, around 1,335 scientific articles have been published in this regard, that is, on average, less than 20 per year. The experts themselves acknowledge that most of the efforts in this field continue to be focused on the endocrine changes suffered by men. But the situation is changing.

So it affirms Concepcion Ruiz Gomezspecialist in Physical Education and Sports Medicine and member of the Spanish Society of Sports Medicine. Although he acknowledges that “much remains to be done”, he also recalls that in recent years the relationship between the menstrual cycle and sports performance has been increasingly studied. “more research is needed to improve the understanding of how menstruation affects the performance of athletes. The goal is to improve decision making and develop effective strategies to maximize performance and maintain health.”

The fact that the menstrual cycle influences the physical preparation of women is beyond doubt. The doctor Miriam Al-Adib, a gynecologist and obstetrician, with a degree in Medicine and Surgery from the University of Extremadura, stresses that although physical activity has a positive effect on the cycle, “it is also true that hormonal fluctuations can influence sports performance.” And she goes into detail. In the premenstrual phase you can experience fatigue, irritability, and mood swings. This worsens during the days of menstruation, which is when women can feel abdominal discomfort or lower back pain. But the consequences do not stop there. “In many cases, hypothalamic amenorrhea could occur, which is an absence of rule because the brain stops giving the order to the ovary to maintain the cycle. This is an adaptation mechanism where the body dispenses with the energy expenditure involved in maintaining it,” he points out. .

For his part, Ruiz Gómez also lists the positive and negative consequences that it entails. Because, oddly enough, the science He says that there are also good things. The bad happens during the premenstrual, menstrual, and ovulatory phases and includes weight gain from fluid retentionthe rise in basal blood glucose, the volume of respirations per minute at rest, the decrease (and subsequent increase) in body temperature, the mood swings, changes in sleep… To compensate, experts have observed beneficial effects in postmenstrual and postovulatory moments. Among them are a better disposition to assimilate the training load, the predominance of favorable moods for the execution of physical load, a greater volume of maximum oxygen and the secretion of hormones such as progesterone, testosterone or cortisol.

Adiaratou Iglesias, gold in the 100 meters class T13 at the Tokyo Paralympic Games. jose louis rock

The medicines

When talking about seeking remedies for colic or headaches, the doctors insist that The first step is to see a gynecologist., since, in these cases, you should always opt for a personalized treatment. “There are options like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugsbut there are other alternatives that must also be evaluated,” says Dr. Al Adib. In the case of opting for drugs, they must always be supervised by a doctor who knows their composition inside out, since in sport at the highest level the analyzes anti-doping are a constant.

In the same sense, Dr. Ruiz Gómez, who also speaks of remedies already studied within sports medicine, pronounces. “Controll for factors such as sleep, rest, nutrition… That helps reduce the number of injuries, since menstruation seems to increase the probability of injuring muscles or ligaments,” she says.

Another point that both professionals highlight is the need to know oneself. “Hormonal cyclicity can also cause women to experience physical and emotional changes. It is important that every woman learns to know her own body and to identify the changes in their menstrual cycle in order to adapt to them and perform to the maximum in their physical activity”, asserts Miriam Al Adib. For her part, Concepción Ruiz Gómez urges record symptoms to be able to adjust the workouts and control the feeding and, incidentally, contribute to the investigation.


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