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Menstrual Cycle

  • By Vishwanthar on Health

  • September 21, 2010

Well, well, well! It was quite surprising to receive a question from my wife about menstruation and exercise. She was asked about menstruation by some of the girls who frequent my gym. So my wife asked me to write about the topic, as it would clear the air. I have researched material on the above topic, and I see no reason for one to not exercise during that period.
Dysmenorrhea is the term used for menstruation pain and cramps. Dysmenorrhea is thought to be caused by prostaglandins, a natural chemical that stimulates the uterus to contract and expel blood. Regular exercise can ease dysmenorrhea, for exercise releases endorphins, natural painkiller of the body, which can blunt menstruation pain. According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, for the majority of women, there is no reason why menstruation should interfere with their daily activities, including exercise. In fact, regular exercise is recommended as one of the ways to alleviate the pain and discomfort that some women experience before and during menstruation.
Exercise affects the menstrual cycle by elevating the metabolism. Metabolism is responsible for essentially sustaining chemical reactions in the body like menstruation. When a woman exercises regularly, she increases her muscle strength, endurance, and flexibility. This, in turn, causes reactions elsewhere, too. The heart, digestive-tract and muscles in the uterine wall become stronger. The added strength also stimulates estrogen production. A woman needs estrogen to ovulate, and build the lining of her uterus. This process ultimately prepares her body for pregnancy.

However, each individual is different in her mental and physical makeup. For example, a woman who bleeds heavily during menstruation might know that any physical activity can cause even more bleeding. Others may complain an increase in the length of their cycle. In these circumstances, one can work out less instead of abandoning it.
In addition, contradicting studies still exist with regard to exercise and menstrual cycle in athletes. One study found that swimmers performed at the poorest just before menstruation and swam faster during their period, while another study found that cross-country skiers did their best just after menstruation and during ovulation. Common sense should prevail, for it is very well known that gold medals are won during all phases of a woman’s monthly cycle.
Please be judicious, as the decision to workout or not entirely depends on you. As I stated above, if exercise makes you feel worse during menstruation, reduce the intensity or if you still don’t feel better performing the physical activity then do avoid it. Otherwise, there is simply no reason for you not to workout.

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