Exercising during your period: good or bad idea?

Une femme sportive qui court pendant ses règles

Sport and rules : the winning combo? Today is a good time to address this issue. Indeed, January 24 is International Women's Sports Day . Established in 2014 at the instigation of the Superior Audiovisual Council, it aims to promote women's sporting practice and to remedy its under-media coverage. This mission is reflected in particular by the organization of an annual awareness operation called since 2018 “ Female Sport Always ”. An initiative which encourages the French media to promote women in sport and contributes to bringing to light themes that were previously little considered. Like the very rare one, covered on the front page of Équipe Magazine in February 2017: “ The rules . The champions break the last taboo in sport . » Beyond high-level athletes , the problem is real for all menstruating people : can we play sports during our periods ? What are the benefits and reserves of exercising physical activity during this very particular phase of the menstrual cycle ? ?

Exercising during your period

The benefits of sport during menstruation: painkiller and natural relaxant

For a healthy woman who feels the desire or need, practicing a sporting activity during her period is entirely possible, and even recommended. As proof, 78% of 14,184 women surveyed via the sports social network Strava, as part of a global study conducted between February and March 2019, declared that “sport reduces symptoms linked to their menstrual cycle thanks to moderate activity and a healthy lifestyle. Benefits noted for both the body and the mind.

Sport reduces menstrual pain

Among the symptoms observed during menstruation, there is more or less severe pain felt in the lower abdomen, sometimes also in the lower part of the back, in the lumbar region. These uncomfortable, often disabling sensations are caused by the muscles of the uterus which contract to facilitate and accelerate the expulsion of menstrual blood. However, during physical exertion, the respiratory rate and blood flow increase in order to meet the higher oxygen needs of the body's muscles. This maximized supply of oxygen to muscle areas, including the pelvic area, helps calm abdominal cramps and relieve menstrual pain. In addition, during a sports session, the body secretes different hormones, such as endorphins, a natural analgesic whose effectiveness against pain is comparable to that of morphine.

Playing basketball during your period

Physical activity during menstruation improves mood

Still according to the Strava study cited above, among the 3,000 French participants, 28.7% noted that sport helps them fight against sleep disorders and 48.7% reported better management of their mood changes. and their irritability thanks to physical exercise. The hormones released during sporting activity contribute to these positive mental effects. Endorphins, previously mentioned as painkillers, are called happiness hormones: they create a feeling of well-being and calming during and after training. As for adrenaline, the stress response hormone, by mobilizing the body for physical effort, it gives a boost . Overall, sport helps release accumulated tension and stress, which makes it easier to manage emotions that are often unstable during menstruation.

Practicing yoga during your period

To the question “can you do sports during your period?” ”, the answer is therefore yes. However, to the question “should we exercise during our periods?” ", The answer is no. Every woman is unique and experiences her menstrual cycle differently. Menstruation is very variable in nature, between women but also for the same person depending on the context (age, state of health, type of contraception). They are sometimes an obstacle to carrying out certain everyday activities, particularly physical ones. Systematically recommending exercise during your period is inappropriate and can be guilt-inducing. This becomes counterproductive, since we move away from the primary objective: general well-being.

Obstacles to practicing sports during menstruation: very heavy flow, PMS, performance

According to an Ifop study carried out in April 2021, 57% of women questioned about the impact of menstruation in their lives recognized that having their period had already prevented them from practicing a sporting activity. Among this panel, almost half (48%) say they have painful periods, including 14% very painful. 81% feel negative effects on their physical and psychological state: fatigue (80%), irritability (71%), emotionality (64%), unease (59%), depression (42%) or anxiety (42%) . Symptoms so pronounced in some women that they do not feel able to do sports at the start of their cycle.

Other factors which can slow down sports practice: anemia, very often due to an iron deficiency in the event of abnormally heavy periods, or endometriosis, which can be a source of pain such that it is not possible to move.

Swimming during your period

Finally, for professional athletes, as indicated by Carole Maître, gynecologist at INSEP (National Institute of Sport, Expertise and Performance), in an interview for France TV : “several studies have demonstrated that there is no significant reduction in performance”. However, a large majority of women believe that they perform less well before and during their periods. The most damaging symptoms are those of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), appearing in the week before menstrual bleeding, “such as weight gain – very bothersome in weight class sports. » Sports results which can be reduced and lead to a drop in motivation or a devaluation of oneself. But, “there are medicinal or homeopathic solutions that can help regularize the cycle. There is also the possibility of adapting workouts taking into account the athlete's cycle. In the follicular phase (start of periods), it is advisable to favor exercises focused on technique and resistance: there is less endurance and long work. »

Another solution to help you exercise during your period: menstrual lingerie.

Menstrual panties, a high-level ally for sport

Adopt periodic protection adapted to the importance of your menstrual flow, your body type and the type of sport you do.

Menstrual underwear, with many advantages , is ideal for sports. Technical, they are ultra-absorbent and therefore very effective. In antibacterial organic cotton, they guarantee breathability and absence of odors. Close to the body and equipped with elastic lace, they adapt to your curves and stay in place during your movements.

At Perdième, you have the choice between:

  • the panty version with a flattering cut for medium to heavy flows, including the Nairobi menstrual panties ;

  • and the shorty version for heavy to very heavy flows, with a more encompassing shape on the buttocks and hips, including the Taipei menstrual shorty .

Perdième menstrual panties and shorties for playing sports

Reconciling sport and rules is possible. Obviously, it's not about forcing yourself. If you usually don't exercise at all or if you systematically suffer from very heavy and/or painful periods, there is no need to inflict on yourself a workout that brings no comfort. But when you feel capable, practicing physical activity is compatible with menstruation. By adapting the exercises and choosing healthy and effective hygienic protection like Perdième menstrual underwear , you are ready! In any case, never hesitate to consult a health professional to benefit from informed and personalized advice.

Written by cd