Anecdotally, Natalie says conversations with teachers have indicated that many girls miss PE lessons or other activities due to their periods, or maybe just go absent from school altogether.
But it has also been suggested to the group that girls don’t receive much support or advice from teachers, who may themselves feel uncomfortable or lacking practical help to assist.
“We want to find out what is and isn’t discussed,” adds Natalie. “For instance, it’s known that yoga can reduce period cramps, but is that option ever discussed or do girls on their period just not participate at all?”
Elite female athletes have always known of the monthly challenge to their training and performance schedules and have used different methods to limit the disturbance.
One of the findings of previous research was that elite athletes tended to become better at managing their routines through experience, whereas younger women sometimes admitted they had not really made a connection between a downturn in their performance or enthusiasm for training and having their period.
All of that would suggest that education for girls in school could have significant benefits when it comes to lessons avoided and activities missed out on.
In recent years, some female elite athletes in various sports have talked publicly about using contraception pills to regulate their periods, while in a 2020 survey* 60 per cent of elite sportswomen said their performances were affected by their periods.
Some others have made allegations of being encouraged to be so underweight as to stop having periods altogether.
“Women and girls are fortunate,” adds Natalie. “Unlike males, we have this sign that we are in really good health. Having a period says everything in our body is working really well.
“So, it’s really important for us to learn what can we do to support girls in their menstrual cycle so they don’t miss PE and drop out of sport.”
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