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How the menstrual cycle and menstruation affect sporting performance: experiences and perceptions of elite female rugby players

Findlay, Rebekka, Macrae, Eilidh, Whyte, Ian, Easton, Chris and Forrest (nee Whyte), Laura (2020) How the menstrual cycle and menstruation affect sporting performance: experiences and perceptions of elite female rugby players. British Journal of Sports Medicine. ISSN 0306-3674

Item Type: Article


Objectives To explore athletes’ past and current
experiences and perceptions of the menstrual cycle in
relation to its impact on sporting performance.
Methods 15 international female rugby players
participated in individual semi-structured
(age: 24.5±6.2 years). All interviews were recorded and
transcribed verbatim, resulting in 37 376 words of text
for descriptive and thematic analysis. Inter-rater
checks resulted in a concordance of agreement of 83%.
Results Almost all athletes (93%) reported menstrual
symptoms. Thirty-three
per cent perceived
heavy menstrual bleeding and 67% considered these
symptoms impaired their performances. Two-thirds
athletes self-medicated
to alleviate symptoms. Thematic
analysis generated 262 meaning units, 38 themes, 10
categories and 4 general dimensions. The four general
dimensions were: (1) symptoms: physiological and
psychological menstrual cycle-related
symptoms such as
dysmenorrhoea, flooding, reduced energy levels, worry,
distraction, fluctuating emotions and reduced motivation;
(2) impact: perceived impact of menstruation on different
aspects of daily lives and performance including negative
and neutral responses; (3) resolution: the methods/
approaches in dealing with menstruation-related
concerns including accepting, or adapting and managing
symptoms with self-medication
or expert treatment;
(4) support: available support and comfortability in
discussing menstrual cycle-related
Conclusions This study provides the first in-depth
insight into athlete’s experiences of the menstrual cycle
and perceived impact on training and competition. It
highlights individual responses to menstrual ’issues’
and emphasises the need for clinicians and support staff
to undertake menstrual cycle profiling, monitoring and
continue to develop awareness, openness, knowledge
and understanding of the menstrual cycle.

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More Information

Depositing User: Eddie Bradley


Item ID: 12021
Identification Number:
ISSN: 0306-3674
Official URL:

Users with ORCIDS

ORCID for Ian Whyte: ORCID iD

Catalogue record

Date Deposited: 12 May 2020 18:46
Last Modified: 30 Sep 2020 11:02


Author: Ian Whyte ORCID iD
Author: Rebekka Findlay
Author: Eilidh Macrae
Author: Chris Easton
Author: Laura Forrest (nee Whyte)

University Divisions

Faculty of Health Sciences and Wellbeing > School of Nursing and Health Sciences > Department of Sport and Excercise Sciences


Sciences > Sport Sciences

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