If you spent school lunch breaks perfectly forging your mum’s handwriting to get out of PE because it was that time of the month, you’re not alone. But while periods have become less mortifying since the early days of stealthily sneaking an Always pad up your uniform sleeve before going to the loo, their incompatibility with sport persists.
Research conducted last year by ActionAid and YouGov estimated that 6 million British women avoid exercise every year as a result of their period; a statistic showing that whether you’ve skipped your workout in favour of gulping cramp-easing magnesium supps or turned back home on your walk to yoga after leaking through your leggings, your monthly cycle is still a bleeding nuisance when you’re trying to nail your healthy habits.
So, obviously, the idea that your cycle could actually help you hit a new PB feels about as relevant as a PMS joke.
And yet, working with – rather than around – your cycle is a concept that’s only recently gained traction. The English FA introduced its Menstrual Cycle Health Strategy a few years before the Lionesses went on to win Euro 2022.
Then there’s the #SayPeriod campaign, launched by the sports science education platform The Well HQ last year and supported by 50 elite athletes. It aimed to normalise conversations about periods in sport, and these discussions were then published in a book titled The Female Body Bible earlier this year.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, tech is getting in on the game, too. Cycle data features on the Apple Watch, Vodafone’s Player, Whoop and Connect – the first platform that lets athletes view performance and fitness data in the context of their period.
The latter was used by the Welsh Women’s Rugby team to prepare for this year’s Six Nations, and it allowed