However, with new attitudes, technological developments, and the latest research, things may be about to change.
In the latest episode of Loughborough University’s ‘Experts in Sport’ podcast, Dr Richard Blagrove, Lecturer in Physiology, meets with Dr Georgie Bruinvels, Research Scientist at Orreco and co-creator of FitrWoman – the world's first app developed to provide daily training and nutrition suggestions tailored to the menstrual cycle.
Hosted by Applied Sport Management Lead Martin Foster, Richard and Georgie discuss how performance can be affected and the methods coaches and managers can use to approach the subject without fear of embarrassment.
“Historically people haven’t wanted to talk about the mensural cycle as it’s been deemed an area of significant embarrassment…from a practitioner perspective the first thing I would say is ‘let’s get the conversation going’,” Georgie said.
Georgie also explained how the rise in technology has paved the way for easier communication between athlete and coach:
“We’ve now developed a free app, FitrWoman, that helps athletes track their cycle and understand more about it. We’ve also got a coach platform – FitrCoach – where athletes can link their app to their coaches, providing a way of having a more discreet conversation.
“Effectively it informs women about their physiology - what's going on in their body - and what training has been demonstrated to be best at certain times in the menstrual cycle. Also, whether there are any cautions around injury risk and what nutrition should be advised at certain times in the cycle.”
The podcast also touches on contraception methods and how these may affect an athlete.
Georgie, who is also a research associate at St. Mary's University and has worked closely with the US Women’s soccer team, added:
“I am delighted that the importance of this aspect of female health is being appreciated and I hope that this podcast will help encourage people to discuss this topic and whet their appetite to learn more.”
Following the recording, Dr Blagrove concluded:
“‘The focus for many years in sport science was placed upon the negative consequences that excessive exercise might have on female reproductive function.
“However, in the modern era practitioners are using an understanding of female physiology to help optimise exercise training programmes and performance for women.
“Georgie is at the forefront of research, education and applied practice in this area, so it was fantastic to speak with her about some of the most important issues relating to health and performance in exercising females.”
The Experts in Sport podcast is a regular series that brings together experts from across Loughborough University with external thought leaders to discuss the latest research and hot topics in sport and academia with new episodes launched every two weeks.