March 22, 2023

Hormonal changes occurring during the menstrual cycle do not affect the physical performance of menstruating people, contrary to what is often claimed by scientists who automatically exclude women from sports research.

An American study by Brigham-Young University, published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, revealed that women’s athletic performance was just as consistent as men’s.

To date, most exercise advice is based almost exclusively on men. Female subjects are excluded from more than 90% of studies on exercise performance and fatigability.

Although participants often told researchers that their menstrual cycles influenced their mood and performance expectations, their measured results showed “absolutely no change.”

“Women with regular cycles had the same results between the high estrogen phase, the high progesterone phase, and during menstruation, when levels of both are low,” said Jessica Linde, who led the study. This information removes a great barrier. It shows that we shouldn’t exclude women from research based on the idea that their menstrual cycles will skew the results.”

“The assumption in exercise research has long been that women are like men, just smaller,” said study co-author Jayson Gifford. Our study suggests that this is not the case and that there are important differences between women’s and men’s exercise. Including more women in research will allow us to refine approaches to female physiology.”

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