How much does the menstrual cycle affect the life of a professional tennis player? And above all if it coincides with the final stages of the most important tournaments. Does it have implications that can disadvantage a tennis player, by a physical and psychological point of view? The menstrual cycle is a sequence of periodic physiological changes that takes place in the uterus and ovaries, and which makes pregnancy possible.
It is necessary for the production of oocytes and for the preparation of the uterus for pregnancy. In general, about 80% of women report having some symptoms, one or two weeks before menstruation (premenstrual syndrome - PMS).
Among the most common there are acne, breast tenderness, swelling, feeling tired, irritability and mood swings. It is often a taboo subject, and there are a lot of things to talk about. Some women's tennis players like Petra Kvitova, Heather Watson and Annabel Croft talked about it in the past years.
"I was aware that when that period of the month came. I was disoriented, out of my mind, embarrassed and I thought I know why it is so. You feel a little out of tune, you do not feel yourself. I think for women who have to wear white on the court (at Wimbledon) it is a nightmare at that time of the month." said Croft, in 2016.
Heather Watson was the first, in 2015, to talk about it. Beaten in the first round of the Australian Open, Watson, chastened by journalists about the problems - like nausea and pressure drops - had during her match, and she said: "I think they are the symptoms of what I'm going through right now, in short, women's things!" Are there specific tests and studies on how much does the menstrual cycle actually influence sports performances? We found two very interesting articles, which contain two studies done on a sample of people.
The first one, by the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine, explains the association of the menstrual cycle with the laxity of the anterior cruciate ligament in adolescent female athletes. Their conclusion was: "We found an insignificant change in ACL laxity from follicular to luteal phases of the menstrual cycle.
Hormones - especially estrogen - may indeed predispose females to higher ACL injury rates, we did not find any evidence that hormone level changes with ACL laxity changes We conclude that the menstrual cycle does not significantly affect ACL laxity in the competitive adolescent female athlete." Another interesting study was published by the British Medical Journal about how ovulation affects performance in tennis players.
The sample of concerning the performance of collegiate female tennis players during the menstrual phases is scarce. This was their conclusion: "We have shown that you are a performance of collegiate tennis players. However, the observed decrement in the accuracy of serve speed near ovulation warrants further investigation." The symptoms of PMS have a very high potential to negatively affect the performances of a sportswoman.
Women can experience symptoms such as joint and muscle pain, cramps, headaches, weight gain and low levels of energy. By a psychological point of view, they may be affected by insomnia, difficulty in concentration, irritability and changes in appetite.
It may be said that women athletes’ sport life is in some way affected by the discomfort they experience as a consequence of their menstrual cycle, even if the level of its psycho-physical symptoms vary greatly from person to person.
This certainly shows us once again how high the level of professional women's tennis and how strong women's players are. Source: Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine and British Medical Journal ALSO READ: Will clay swing save Stan Wawrinka's season (SURVEY INSIDE!)