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WSL study finds injuries more likely at points in menstrual cycle

Written by on May 1, 2024

Menstrual cycle symptoms are common and around two-thirds of elite female athletes feel these can have negative impacts on their performance, according to a recent BBC Sport survey.

In this study, 26 players were monitored with 593 cycles tracked across 13,390 days, during which time 74 injuries were recorded.

Ally Barlow, first author of the study and a WSL physiotherapist, said: “We need to build on this and try and understand if there is a trend. And if so what can we do about it? Maybe then we can mitigate injury risk moving forwards.”

Barlow believes more clubs should collect and pool their injury and menstrual cycle data, especially given the increased professionalism and investment in women’s football.

“When we look at the growth of women’s football now there’s so much more money coming into it,” she said.

“So time-loss injuries are starting to have a really big burden on clubs. Maybe a couple of years ago, it was just about winning. But now there’s a financial implication involved with it as well, so we need to understand more.”

The authors divided the cycle into four main phases in their study: menstruation, the mid-to-late follicular phase, the early-mid luteal phase and the pre-menstrual phase.

Each phase comes with hormonal changes that have the potential to influence different aspects of a woman’s health.

Dr Bruinvels said: “We called them four phases to help with breaking the taboo because people are so much more comfortable just saying phase one, two, three and four than – I’m on my period, I’m just about to start it.”

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