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Understanding Women’s Menstrual Cycle and Needs

Experts cite a lack of awareness of key issues.

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Woman on couch in pain from menstrual cycle

Do coaches understand the basics of the menstrual cycle? A survey and focus group study of women’s soccer clubs in Europe show that coaches lack education around the menstrual cycle, hormonal contraception and pregnancy, as reported in Sport in Society (2022; doi:10.1080/17430437.2022.2125385).

“In sport, these topics also come with varying degrees of stigma and silence, as well as being a barrier to gender equality,” says lead study author Jacky Forsyth, PhD, associate professor of exercise physiology, Staffordshire University in Stoke-on-Trent, United Kingdom. “To address this, we wanted to collect best practices across Europe to learn what clubs are doing well, what is effective and what can be improved.”

Forsyth continued: “Despite some good practices in individual clubs across different countries, there was limited knowledge and understanding of how training, performance and health are affected. Knowledge was generally left up to the individual without support from governing bodies or coach education providers.”

Study authors suggest that hiring more women coaches and including research on women’s issues in coaching education to improve more open dialogue on these topics between coaches and athletes.

See also: Women’s Health and Exercise

Shirley Eichenberger-Archer, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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