Women have approximately 457 menstrual cycles in their lifetime, corresponding to around 35 years of menstrual activity, writes Dr Jacky Forsyth – who works in the centre for Sport, Health and Exercise Research at Staffordshire University.
For a woman, therefore, the menstrual cycle pervades their reproductive life. And for the exercising female, the menstrual cycle may affect aspects of their exercise performance. This could be because of blood flow and severe abdominal cramps interfering with engagement in certain activities, or because excessive exercise and dietary restriction lead to a complete absence of the menstrual cycle.
Menstruation is often still considered taboo, and something that is mocked, or considered frivolous (Kissling, 2006). It is important, however, to keep talking about and