- Provide non-hormonal and hormonal management strategies to reduce the negative influence menstrual cycle symptoms on training and performance
- Highlight when to seek further help from a medical practitioner
As an athlete, managing your menstrual cycle during training and competition can be a challenge. To help make it easier, we suggest these menstrual management strategies to ensure you can go about your training with as little disruption as possible.
Non-hormonal menstrual management strategies
Dealing with fatigue
- Increase your hydration
- Increase your sleep, where possible
Dealing with period pain and cramps
- Regular paracetamol (maximum dose of 4g/ 24hr)
- If you are regularly experiencing pain and cramps during your period, you might want to consider taking regular anti-inflammatories (such as Ponstan) for 2 days before, and during your period
- Stretching and yoga is recommended to improve symptoms
Dealing with heavy bleeding
- Regular anti-inflammatories (Ponstan or Naprogesic – over the counter) or tranexamic acid (requires a doctor’s prescription) reduces menstrual flow, limiting heavy bleeding
- Keep in mind, taking anti-inflammatories and tranexamic acid to reduce your bleeding is most effect when you start to take them two days before your menses. If your bleeding remains heavy, we recommend you visit your doctor to seek further advice
Hormonal menstrual management strategies
When you are exploring different hormonal contraceptive options it is important consult a specialised women’s health general practitioner (GP) that is experienced in a wide range of hormonal contraceptive options. When you consult a GP, it is important to outline your key needs and goals of using the hormonal contraceptive and review your medical history to find an option best suited to your individual circumstances.
Once you begin using a hormonal contraceptive option, it is also very important that you schedule a follow up appointment with your GP within 8-10 weeks of commencing it. This will allow your doctor to check for side effects, assess your tolerability to the option and ensure it is the right choice for you.
The oral contraceptive pill (‘The Pill’)
One way to reduce your experience of PMS symptoms is taking the oral contraceptive pill to regulate your hormone levels. In addition to preventing the risk of pregnancy, the pill has non-contraceptive benefits such as regulating your period as well as reducing heavy bleeding, cramps, acne and emotional PMS symptoms.
Plus you can evey skip your withdrawl bleed (sugar pill week) if you’d like! This is totally safe as the withdrawl bleed is only used to mimic a natural cycle.
There are over 100 different variations of the oral contraceptive pills, each with different benefits and side effects, so it’s best to work closely with specialised women’s health GP to find the best option for you.
During this process it is important to follow up with your doctor around 8-10 weeks after starting ‘the pill’ to check your experience of side effects, your tolerability, and ensure it is the best choice considering your needs and goals.
The Mirena is a hormonal intrauterine device (IUD) that’s used for birth control and has added benefits like helping control heavy bleeding.
The Mirena helps control heavy bleeding in two ways, by lowering the amount of bleeding you experience each month and by lowering the frequency of your menstrual bleeding.
Some women have no periods with the Mirena, and this is completely safe and normal.
When should I seek medical advice about my menstrual cycle?
If you have concerns about your menstrual cycle or are experiencing difficulty managing your menstrual cycle, we recommend you seek the advice of a specialised women’s health General Practitioner (GP) if you experience any of the following:
- Significant changes in the pattern of your period
- The absence of a period
- Heavy bleeding (e.g., flooding of pads, changing pad/tampon every hour etc.)
- Large clots present during your period
- Severe pain that impacts on your daily activities
- Vomiting or nausea
- Blood in urine or bowel motion
- Urinary incontinence
They will assess your symptoms, and where relevant, refer you onto a gynaecologist for further investigation.
If you have concerns about your menstrual cycle, we encourage you to get in touch with us. We have a network of specialised General Practitioners, gynaecologists and fertility specialists across Australia who will be more than happy to speak with you and discuss your individual circumstances.
With over 50 dedicated specialists across 70 consulting locations throughout the country, our friendly staff can help you choose the right medical professional to guide you and help you achieve your sporting goals. Contact us now.
- They are many ways, both non-hormonal and hormonal, to manage your menstrual cycle and associated symptoms
- If you are experiencing any of the undesirable symptoms outlined above or would like to learn more about menstrual management strategies, we recommend contacting a specialised women’s health GP to explore whether there is menstrual dysfunction or an alternative issue present
- Link to The Menstrual Cycle IA Health and Wellbeing Program module
- Female Performance & Health Initiative – Understanding your menstrual cycle
Please note: this information is provided as a general guide and is not intended as a substitute for advice from a registered physician or other healthcare professional. We recommend you consult a specialised women’s health general practitioner from Ignite Athlete to provide you with detailed advice taking your medical history and individual circumstances into account.