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Supporting female performance in sport and fitness
Supporting female performance in sport and fitness

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2 What do you need to know about the menstrual cycle?

Whether you are a coach, athlete, or fitness trainer it is vital to have some knowledge about the changes that can occur in the female body each month and the effect it can have physiologically and psychologically. The menstrual cycle is explored further in Activity 2.

Activity 2 The menstrual cycle

Timing: Allow about 15 minutes

Watch the animation below that introduces you to the basic physiology of the menstrual cycle and hormones involved.

Download this video clip.Video player: sfps_1_animation_mentrual_cycle_exercise_front_end_boards.mp4
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Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

Then match the following to either follicular or the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle.

Using the following two lists, match each numbered item with the correct letter.

  1. Oestrogen levels reach a peak

  2. Progesterone levels reach a peak

  3. Time between the period and ovulation

  4. Time between ovulation and the period starting

  • a.Luteal

  • b.Follicular

  • c.Luteal

  • d.Follicular

The correct answers are:
  • 1 = d
  • 2 = a
  • 3 = b
  • 4 = c

You can see that the hormones released during the menstrual cycle, oestrogen and progesterone, are produced to support reproduction. These and other hormones are released from glands. Hormones are ‘chemical messengers’ that send messages out to organs and tissues to control health and behaviour. Hormones act to tell you to eat when you are hungry, give you energy when you are stressed and help you sleep at night.

Oestrogen and progesterone do not just control the menstrual cycle, they also contribute to variations in energy, mood, sexual desire, and changes in behaviour across the cycle (Hill, 2019). They also have a role to play in bone health, cardiovascular function and brain health.