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Can a Period Hamper Athletic Performance? Heather Watson Breaks ‘The Last Taboo’ in Sport

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The Australian reaches its conclusion this weekend, with the world’s top men and women fighting it out for the first Grand Slam title of the year. But it hasn’t just been the tennis that has hit the headlines over the past fortnight’s play.

Britain’s number one, Heather Watson caused a media storm when she admitted that her early exit from the tournament had more to do with Mother Nature than the current state of her game.

Following her recent win in Hobart, where she claimed her second WTA title, Watson arrived in Melbourne hotly tipped to do well. But after a display that was described by the Telegraph’s Jim White as ‘listless, underpowered, lacklustre’, Watson’s explanation of her performance was somewhat unexpected.

Following the game Watson was questioned about what exactly had caused this standard of play. Had her glandular fever made a return? Or perhaps the intensity of the Melbourne heat just happened to get the most of her? However, Watson’s response was simple: ‘It’s just one of these things that I have . . . girl things.’

For one too many women this is a familiar situation that creeps around the corner, seemingly at always the most inconvenient of times. Yet it is rarely openly spoken about. Generally, society maintains a certain level of silence around the female menstrual cycle; leaving many to claim that Watson’s openness has finally broken down one of ‘the last taboos’ in sport.

Though Watson didn’t explicitly state that it was her period that affected her performance, the allusion of ‘girl things’ was clear enough.

Subsequent media coverage included quotes from Annabel Croft to Paula Radcliffe to Dame Tanni Grey Thompson, each of whom had a different perspective on the effect and influence menstruation can have on athletic performance.

Is there scientific proof that a woman’s period can affect performance?

Mood swings, lack of composure, loss of coordination, increased susceptibility to injury, dehydration, stomach cramps, listlessness: these are just some of the symptoms women can experience as a result of getting their period. The problem for the sporting world in assessing the validity of Watson’s excuse at the Australian Open is that the effects can vary massively from woman to woman.

What research has shown is that menstrual cramps affect up to 50% of women. Furthermore, 15% of these women describe the pain they suffer as a result as ‘severe’.

These stats show that the intervention of these unwanted hormones are not just an issue for women playing high-level sport. Whatever walk of life women are from and in whatever industry they work, it is undeniable that the menstrual cycle can present both a challenge and, at times, an unwanted inconvenience.

But what happens when, as with Watson, these draining effects hit you on a day of great importance?

While it is possible to suppress the natural cycle through use of the contraceptive pill, implant or injection, it is also simply possible to delay a period by a matter of days with Norethisterone.

Norethisterone contains a hormone similar to progesterone produced by the body. By keeping the hormone levels at a high level for longer, the uterus lining is maintained and menstruation does not begin until the individual stops taking the medication. Norethisterone can be used to delay a period for a maximum of 17 days and needs to be taken 3 days before the start of a period.

Who should consider taking Norethisterone?

As a temporary period delay treatment, Norethisterone is convenient and simple. Whether anticipating a big occasions such as a sports event or simply planning a holiday, speak to your pharmacist today about gaining more control over your cycle.

Visit our Period delay treatment page now to find out how you can get a prescription delivered direct to your door.