Managing your menstrual cycle as an athlete
We understand as an athlete it can be difficult to manage your menstrual symptoms during training and competition.
To help you manage your period and make sure you can go about your training with as little disruption as possible, we recommend the following menstrual cycle management strategies.
Non-hormonal menstrual cycle management strategies
Dealing with fatigue
- Increase your hydration
- Eat meals high in protein
- Increase your sleep, where possible
Dealing with period pain and cramps
- Increase your magnesium intake (300mg)
- Regular paracetamol (maximum dose of 4g/24hr)
If you are regularly experiencing pain and cramps during your period, you may wish to try taking regular anti-inflammatories (such as Ponstan) for 2 days before, and during, your period.
Dealing with heavy bleeding
- Regular anti-inflammatories (Ponstan – over the counter) or tranexamic acid (requires a doctor’s prescription) may help alleviate heavy bleeding
Anti-inflammatories and tranexamic acid work best when started two days before your menses. If your bleeding remains heavy, we recommend you visit your doctor to seek further advice.
Hormonal menstrual cycle management strategies
The oral contraceptive pill (‘The Pill’)
Taking the oral contraceptive pill is one way to reduce your experience of PMS symptoms by regulating 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.
You also have the option to skip your withdrawal bleed when you would like to. Please rest assured this is completely safe to do as there is no medical need for withdrawal bleeding, instead it was a choice of the designers of the oral contraceptive to mimic a natural menstrual cycle.
There are over 100 different types of the oral contraceptive pill. Talk to your doctor about which one is the right choice for you.
The Mirena is a hormonal intrauterine device (IUD) used for birth control which has also been linked with a range of additional non-contraceptive benefits such as relief from heavy periods. The Mirena can help treat 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 impacting your life and athletic performance, 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.