Understanding Medical Problems

3 Tips For Professional Strength Athletes With Menstrual Problems

Menstrual problems can be anything from heavy and/or painful periods to problems with pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) or pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). When you train at a professional level and must compete, there are strategies to tackle some of your most difficult menstrual problems.

Rule-Out Other Causes

Many women with significant menstrual problems have been told for decades that it is normal for them, this means problems can surface and go undetected. Whether your problems are new or old, have regular gynecological screenings and encourage your gynecologist to refer you for a transvaginal ultrasound. Even if nothing significant is detected during imaging, you will have a baseline image of your reproductive organs, so it is easier to detect abnormalities later. Some common problems that can manifest as menstrual problems are fibroids, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), cysts, endometriosis, or overgrowth of the uterine lining.

Consider Birth Control

Many forms of birth control can work wonders for keeping pre-menstrual and menstrual problems under control, depending on your exact needs. For example, if you have a family history of migraines, stroke, blood clots, or you smoke, you will be more limited in your birth control options due to risks associated with estrogen therapies. During your off-season, consider discussing the best options with your gynecologist so you have an opportunity to try them without significant impacts on your training or competition schedule.

It is common for women to experience worsening of their periods or erratic bleeding during the first few months of trying a new birth control, but their symptoms may improve later. Another option you might want to discuss with your gynecologist is using active birth control pills back-to-back or ones specifically formulated to limit your number of periods. Both methods can be ideal to keep your period at bay during competitions.

Experiment With Feminine Hygiene

Many women notice a reduction in their menstrual problems simply by changing the products they use. For example, some women find organic versions of their pads and tampons reduce cramping and bleeding. Another issue related to professional strength athletes is finding products to use during their period that will stay in place while lifting heavy. You might find heavier weights cause your tampons to slip out. Inserting a fresh tampon right before your training or competition might help. The drier the tampon, the harder it is for it to slip out.

You might also consider inserting a fresh tampon that is a higher absorbency than you need just for a few hours, since your body might be more likely to push against a larger tampon rather than push it out. Alternative feminine hygiene products are also ideal for strength athletes. Reusable or disposable menstrual cups might stay in place better during heavy lifting, and some women find they also reduce cramping.

Being a strength athlete and having menstrual problems can make training or competitions difficult. Trying different strategies to treat underlying problems or make them more manageable can prevent your period from ruining your goals.