This is How Female Olympic Athletes Deal With Their Periods

Because they bleed once a month too.​
This is How Female Olympic Athletes Deal With Their Periods
Getty
Getty
By Catriona Harvey-Jenner -

After Chinese swimmer Fu Yuanhui was refreshingly honest about the fact she was on her period during the 4x100 metre relay she took part in, the idea of female athletes also experiencing the same monthly bleed every other woman endures in life was suddenly at the forefront of people's minds.

Specifically, how menstruation can affect performance in these athletes' training regimes and competitions.

"My period started last night," Fu told reporters after the race, "so I'm feeling pretty weak and really tired. But this isn't an excuse. At the end of the day I just didn't swim very well."

We think it's pretty great that the swimmer came out and spoke about the effects of her period when it comes to sport, because it's a reminder that there's that extra thing to think about. So when we sat down with Britain's most successful female athlete ever, Laura Trott, we thought we'd find out how 'Aunt Flo' impacts her sporting career.

Laura also just so happens to be the ambassador for Always' #LikeAGirl campaign, which encourages young women to stick with sport (period faff and all), so it was pretty relevant, really.

So what do most athletes tend to do? Double back their pill packet so they don't come on in the middle of the Olympics? That's certainly what I'd do. But for Laura, she's got an entirely different approach. 

"It's more luck for me than anything else; it was almost a relief, actually, because I came on my period today and I was relieved that that didn't happen yesterday [the day of her omnium race final]."

Yeah, despite all that was riding on her Olympic performance, Laura just went with it, and hoped mother nature might be on her side. Not that all athletes do the same, she added, "but mine's so regular that I can normally time it."

Luckily for Laura, she says being on her period when training or competing "doesn't actually play a huge part, I mean I do have one or two days where I am a little bit off, but it doesn't take such a huge hit that I wouldn't be able to compete.

"I don't get stomach cramps or anything like that, I guess I'm quite lucky in that way that they are pretty light and they don't last very long," she said. Which is good, because we were having images of female cyclists having to strap hot water bottles to their stomachs during their time of the month, and that would do nothing for the all-important aerodynamics.

But Laura Trott, who broke records after taking home two gold medals from Rio, says she thinks it's important we talk about things like periods. The more we do, the less taboo there is, she points out.

"It does need to be talked about more, especially in sport.  I remember Paula Radcliffe coming out and talking about it and everyone being like 'oh she shouldn't be talking about it in public'.

"But young girls are quitting sport because of this, and if it's not spoken about they have no idea how to continue or how to deal with it."

Exactly right. It's important that women of all ages see amazing female athletes pursuing their sporting careers,  and that they won't let a little thing like a monthly bleed hold any of them back.

Laura Trott is the ambassador for the Always #LikeAGirl campaign, inspiring girls across the country to stay confident and keep playing #LikeAGirl .

 

Originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.co.uk