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England Women: The doctor on ’empowering’ players to success

Written by on May 2, 2024

The FA’s approach to female health became even more sophisticated three years ago when it started working with an elite sport bio-analytics company, which provides platforms for menstrual cycle tracking through apps.

The technology is used by more than half of teams in the Women’s Super League, allowing players, coaches and medical staff at both club and international level to track cycles and tailor training and nutrition accordingly.

“It’s trying to understand each individual because it’s not one size fits all,” Dr Mehta explained.

One player had bouts of nausea and by tracking their cycle over a long time they realised it was related to a certain time of the month.

“We’re never going to get everything to zero. It’s a natural process for a female – they will go through hormonal changes and that will unfortunately produce some symptoms that may be impactful.

“We’re not going to remove all of that, but can we make it better? Can we make it 1% better, can we make it 10% better?”

Attention is now turning to pelvic floor health, the area of muscles controlling the bladder and bowels.

Dr Mehta, who is also a club doctor for Reading, believes this could have the biggest impact for female players as research suggests 20% of players in the professional game are affected.

“You hear anecdotal comments from players about leaking, particularly around gym and exertional activities and other issues including pain and discomfort,” he added.

“It’s a gap in our understanding at this stage but we want to fill that.”

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