Research shows that menstruation improves cognitive function in female athletes, contrary to women's self-assessment that 'menstruation worsens performance'


menstruation , the lining of the uterus is shed, causing bleeding, and some people experience various symptoms such as abdominal pain, anemia, nausea, and moodiness. Therefore, a research team from University College London in the UK conducted an experiment to investigate how menstruation affects the performance of female athletes.

Attentional, anticipatory and spatial cognition fluctuate throughout the menstrual cycle: potential implications for female sport - ScienceDirect

Women perform better in cognitive tests when menstruating, study finds | Menstruation | The Guardian

Menstruation's Effect on Sports Performance Isn't Quite What We Expected: ScienceAlert

Previous studies have shown that female athletes are more likely to suffer injuries than male athletes, even when playing the same sport, and there has been much discussion about possible explanations.

One of the factors thought to increase the risk of injury in female athletes is the fluctuation of hormones in the body due to menstruation. This theory explains that hormones secreted during menstruation may change brain function and affect the performance of female athletes, but the actual effect on brain function and the specific increased risk of injury were unknown.

So a research team led by Associate Professor Flaminia Ronca , a sports scientist at University College London, conducted a study on male and female athletes.

The participants consisted of 96 male athletes, 105 female athletes with natural menstrual cycles, and 47 female athletes who used hormonal contraception. They completed cognitive tests and questionnaires two weeks apart. The cognitive tests assessed how the athletes' brains work during competition, including how quickly they think and react, how they process spatial information, and how they stay focused. The participants also used a menstrual cycle tracking app to indicate where they were in their menstrual cycle at the time of the survey.

The analysis showed no significant differences in reaction time or accuracy between male and female athletes, but found that female athletes with regular menstrual cycles performed best on cognitive tests during their period compared to any other phase.

However, when surveyed, female athletes were more likely to report feeling worse during their period and performing worse on cognitive tests, meaning that the objective performance of female athletes did not match their subjective perceptions.

'What's surprising is that participants performed better while on their period, which goes against assumptions made by women, and perhaps society in general, about performance during menstruation,' said Ronca. 'We hope that our findings provide the basis for constructive conversations between coaches and athletes about perception and performance. How we feel doesn't necessarily translate to how we perform.'

in Science, Posted by log1h_ik