Like it or not, from puberty to menopause, menstruation is part of most women's lives. The hormonal changes caused by menstruation are often blamed for many problems. Is this really the case? Are periods a hindrance to the practice of sports, or on the contrary, would physical activity be beneficial during menstruation? Let's try to find out more.
The benefits of sports during menstruation
Sports have many benefits, and this is also the case during menstruation.
First of all, physical activity has mental health benefits. This little morale boost can greatly help those who experience the negative effects of menstruation on their mood or suffer from premenstrual syndrome.
On the physical side, the increase in blood circulation and the release of endorphins (the feel-good hormones) can also reduce the pain associated with menstrual cramps, which is not negligible.
Also, in cases of regular sports activities, it is common to see a decrease in blood flow because the loss of fatty tissue leads to a reduction in estrogen. This results in a thinner uterine lining, automatically reducing menstrual flow.
The impact of sport on the menstrual cycle
Be aware that during physical activity, you may see a temporary increase in flow, as movement can speed up the descent of blood. Ultimately the total amount will most likely be less than if you were not exercising.
High-performance sports can significantly impact the menstrual cycle, again related to the decrease in estrogen. In some cases, the decline in hormone levels may cause irregular periods or their disappearance, also known as "amenorrhea".
Can you enjoy sports during your period?
In theory, there is no contraindication to practicing a sport during your period. The only real constraint would be severe cramps.
Menstruation can indeed cause pain, water retention, mood swings and insomnia. These effects may discourage some from moving during that time of the month. Although these effects are unpleasant, they usually do not prevent women from enjoying their favourite sports activity.
However, if the pain of menstrual cramps is unbearable, it is best to consult a health care professional.
It is also possible to adapt your physical activity according to your condition.
Nothing stops you from taking a leisurely hike instead of an intense interval running session. The important thing is to move, not to increase your stress or pain. Listen to your body and decrease the intensity if you feel the need.
What about swimming?
Many people mistakenly believe that menstruation takes a break once in the water. However, although the pressure of the water can temporarily and partially slow down blood flow, menstruation does not stop completely when we are in the water.
Using sanitary napkins in water should be avoided, as they will absorb moisture and will not be able to absorb the blood flow. Opting for other types of protection for comfort and efficiency is preferable.
Swimming can be beneficial for relieving menstrual cramps, as it has a massaging and relaxing effect. It is a great activity during your time of the month.
The importance of good protection
With so many options available to women today, the fear of leakage should not prevent a woman from exercising during her period.
Whether you prefer a classic sanitary napkin, tampon, cup or menstrual panties, the important thing is to find the protection that is best suited to your needs.
Comfort, degree of absorption, type of activity and its duration must be considered.
A menstrual cup can remain in place for several hours; nothing prevents you from enjoying an excursion. It is even possible to empty it during training: all you have to do is rinse it with a bit of water, and you’re good to go for several more hours. You can also use a panty liner to avoid nasty surprises with a tampon or menstrual cup.
In a nutshell…
Unless you're in a lot of pain, your period shouldn't stop you from playing your favourite sport. Listen to yourself, and your body will thank you!