Talking Point

How Menstruation Affects Sportswomen

Georgia Bruinvels, research, menstruation
Dr. Georgia Bruinvels

Dr. Georgia Bruivels shares her research into menstruation, how active women are affected and how to maximize performance during your periods

Talking Point is hosted by Dr. Lisa Ingarfield

Podcast length: 42′ 41″

This month Lisa’s guest is Dr. Georgie Bruinvels, a research scientist for Orreco. They discuss Georgie’s research and work into our menstrual cycles and how they affect how hormones and other components of our life, such as our athletic participation. Georgie is a research scientist for Orreco a sport science and data analytics company and the lead scientist for Fitr Women which has Orreco Female Athlete Program. More specifically Fitr Women works with exercise in girls and women to help optimize training and performance around the menstrual cycle to drive education and understanding virtues drop out from school and importantly to advance research in this somewhat under researched area. Georgia has just completed her Ph.D. from University College, London and has spent the last month on the road talking about the upcoming launch of the free app. It’s designed for  women to track the menstrual cycle educate them on what is going on in their body while also providing training and new nutritional suggestions based on where they are and their menstrual cycle.

LISTEN to more episodes of Talking Point HERE


Orreco’s website

Orreco on Twitter

Lisa’s Talking Point BLOG

Lisa on Instagram @tritodefi     |   Twitter @tritodefi 

Georgia’s BIO

Dr. Georgie Bruinvels is a Research Scientist for Orreco, a sports science and data analytics company, and the lead scientist for FitrWoman, which is Orreco’s Female Athlete Programme. More specifically, FitrWoman works with exercising girls and women to help optimise training and performance around the menstrual cycle, to drive education and understanding, reduce drop out from sport, and importantly to advance research in this somewhat under researched area. Georgie has just completed her PhD from University College London and has spent the last month on the road talking about the upcoming launch of a free app – FitrWoman, allowing exercising girls and women to track their menstrual cycle, educate them on what is going on in their body, while also provide training and nutritional suggestions based on where they are in their menstrual cycle.


Talking Point_E9_ed.mp3

[00:00:02] Welcome to Episode 9 of Talking Point on WiSP Sports Radio where we delve more deeply into the systemic barriers facing women in sport. I’m your host Lisa Ingarfield and Talking Point is co-produced by myself and WiSP Sports. At WiSP Sport we believe women in sport deserve equal coverage last month in episode 8 we talked to Karen Lofstrom about her 30 years of working to advance women and girls in school. We learned about the successes she has seen as well as the challenges that still remain. This month we’re excited to have Dr. Georgie Bruinvels a research scientist for Orreco joining us to talk about her research and work into our menstrual cycles and how they affect how hormones and other components of our life and how that affects our athletic participation. Georgie is a research scientist for Orreco, a sport science and data analytics company and the lead scientist for Fitr Women which is Orecco’s Female Athlete Program. More specifically Ftr Women works with exercising girls and women to help optimize training and performance around the menstrual cycle, to drive education and understanding, reduce drop out from school, and importantly to advance research in this somewhat under researched area. Georgia has just completed her Ph.D. from University College London and has spent the last month on the road talking about the upcoming launch of the free app Fitr  Women allowing exercising girls and women to track the menstrual cycle, educate them on what is going on in their body while also providing training and nutritional suggestions based on where they are and their menstrual cycle.

Welcome Dr. Bruinvels. We are super excited to have you here and to learn more about your research. Thank you so much for joining us.

[00:01:45] Hi. Thank you very much for having me.

[00:01:48] I’m really looking forward to our conversation because a couple of episodes ago we spoke with Dr. Nikki Brown who I believe was a colleague of yours and learned a little bit more about breast development and breast health. And what’s interesting to me is I think about this issue is you know one of the driving forces or a focus of talking point as a podcast is to really delve a little bit more deeply into these systemic barriers. And I often conceptualize conceptualize systemic areas as sexism cultural influences the way that the media represents women. And so it’s been a new kind of realisation for me in thinking about this about how our physiology and our bodies and the physicality of our boys Forte’s affect how we engage in school. Women and girls and their participation. So I’m wondering if you could just start us off by talking a little bit about your research and what you found regarding the menstrual cycle. Yes. So as he said I have recently just completed my Ph.D. and through my Ph.D. I guess I started off focusing on an iron deficiency in excising women and the leading cause of iron deficiency is actually menstrual blood loss menstruation and those who exercise it already has an increased risk of iron deficiency anyway and this is exacerbated in women because of the menstrual cycle and the increased blood loss.

[00:03:15] So I guess I started off sort of on this thread of godown nine divisions he reached for the team became apparent actually the messier cycle is a huge issue for exercising women and my first study actually involved speaking to 1862 women am and establishing firstly the prevalence of Ashry heavy menstrual bleeding Osei associating that with performance and seeing the actually the menstrual cycle effect so many women yet very little has been done about it. And I think I found it so I am increasing I’m funny it’s brilliant that people are talking about it a little bit more say in 2016 had there wasn’t a tennis player famously fake Outhred said the hametz was psycho had caused her to lose in the first round of the Australian Open and it’s brilliant that people are talking about it yet. Actually we need to now do something about it and stop it being an excuse effectively. So I guess through my Ph.D. I always had this in mind and I was always to like the kind of the common thread was let’s try and establish is having this meeting in line to purchase one course or poor performance. And what are the other causes the moment of the other reasons why the menstrual cycle can affect performance and actually a study that we are currently working on and has found the say premenstrual syndrome which is actually the presence of symptoms like headaches nausea vomiting stomach cramps heavy legs backache in the same many different symptoms that night up to 95 percent of women are affected by this yet only 19 percent of them actually speak to the athletic coaches about them and as three quarters of them say that they feel it hinders their performance.

[00:05:08] So there’s you know there’s this big issue that’s going on unhinging people yet we actually need to be doing something about it we need to be educating people about what’s going on and also just you know finding out what we do we can proactively act on it and help Origi symptoms and just help people feel better I guess. Gosh that’s amazing so 75 percent of athletic women are experiencing those symptoms but only 20 percent are actually talking to their coach or athletic mentor or adviser about it. It’s in 1992. Percent are experiencing symptoms 75 say affects their performance. And yet 19 percent say they actually talked to that Kate which is crazy. Why do you think that is. Well obviously there’s the historical taboo around menstruation and people see it as a subject. This is disgusting yummies bludgeon. That sounds horrendous and I know actually as a kid like I was so embarrassed by the fact that I had my menstrual cycle and I was doing a lot of sports and I did didn’t I would Dasom has no way I would tell my coach about it. I wouldn’t even tell my friends about it. So I think you know there’s the historical disgust around this loss of blood. But actually I think it’s so important we stand back we look at it as humans are just changing in a cyclical process. And actually that’s like women are in a really unique position and there’s proactive things that they can do to reduce the impacts will change more to eat better. And I really feel strongly about educating women and girls about this and China you know help them to feel at their best and actually utilize their menstrual cycle to the best of their ability.

[00:06:54] So there are a number of women and girls who are actually saying when I get my period I’m just not going to participate in sport. Oh definitely. And I think the historical there’s a historical opinion that premenstrual and Gerring menstruation you should get into bed with a hot water bottle. I mean I have like really stresses me out. If I look online and see some of these articles read says the best thing to do when you’re menstruating is to get in bed and you know just relax. Yes actually and stress can exacerbate symptoms but exercise is also being proven to reduce symptoms as well. So like and peer messes caused by thought to be caused by an increase in cost the gladdens. And there are certain types of like a hormone like substance which can cause an increase in and release of inflammatory Marcus that can cause this inflammatory process and exercise can actually act as an anti inflammatory agent. So while exercising you can actually reduce symptoms and also say exercise can help relieve stress and it can just make you feel happier. So thing is really you know there is there are lots of historical beliefs which we kind of need to Boston make people appreciate the you know how you can live a normal life with a menstrual cycle and having a regular menstrual cycle is actually an indication of health and is not things we be afraid of. It is actually something to embrace so yeah because I definitely remember getting messages that when you’re on your period you really don’t do anything you should just relax. I mean when I was younger I didn’t do as much exercise as I do now but it’s certainly something that has crossed my mind.

[00:08:38] And then I’m wondering how many people have you encountered that actually get a direct message that it’s wrong to exercise when they’re having their period. Yeah I mean that’s a good question it’s not. And that’s something which I’ve kind of actively researched specifically but we know the study has recently being run by the Women in Sports Trust and did a big survey of young girls and found that it was something around 40 43 percent. I want to say young girls specifically don’t exercise when demonstrating and you know that’s probably partly because like has often caused by historical beliefs like what their parents say or just they don’t feel like it and don’t realize that the benefits the exercise can have.

So what I’m hearing you say then is there’s this cycle obviously that happens monthly and hormonal changes and there is a way to kind of work with your that’ll work with those hormone changes to maximize your engagement with the world or your engagement with athletic performance. Definitely so. And we know that. So in the first half of your cycle say when you bleed and then for say the next half seven days your levels of estrogen and there’s two primary ovarian or female sex hormones and estrogen and progesterone. And in the first half of the cycle estrogen levels increase in progesterone numbers are very low. And we know that in the first half the cycle as the estrogen levels increase adaptation to a more strength based training high intensity training has been found to be better than in the second half of your cycle when if you think about it and say ovulation is right in the middle.

[00:10:24] So that’s where your egg might be fertilized and your body kind of goes into slight protection made to allow for the fertilization process that happens so the kind of I guess like it changes the whole time. But as a result of the high levels of progesterone in the second half of the cycle and this kind of protection effect the adaptation to resistance training is less significant than in the first home. So while she may be really really clever and manipulate training around this but that doesn’t mean that on any one day an individual comp Her form is more about her from a training perspective. What is the best thing that they can do. That’s real. I think that’s so interesting and fascinating right because when I think about training cycles and what we’re taught as coaches and what we’re taught as athletes and how you know we should do what exercises when there is never any mention of how you can mold your training cycle around your menstrual cycle and so that leads me to believe that all recommendations around training and coaching are kind of originate from what works for men. Absolutely. And they hit the nail on the head say historically back around the time of the first like Cold War research was focused in men because there was concerns over damaging umble features in women. And I guess like a time like this gender gap has just grown and grown and grown because more latterly when it was established to actually like women and men are different and women have this cyclical hormonal dry gas process that happens is way more dramatic than that in men.

[00:12:09] Firstly that adds expense to research because more women are required for studies. Second is really hard to actually test women that you have to test them every single day. And thirdly people don’t want to go back and repeat studies that they’ve already done in men on women. So for example in the U.S. like 70 percent of drugs like medical drugs and withdrawals in the market through to side effects on women and that’s simply because they weren’t tested in which I guess is madness. So I think you know the earlier. There really is a big gap. I guess we were trying. It’s brilliant. There’s some really good research groups driving this area for it. I just feel so strongly about Shino continuing to push this and just gain a better understanding and I think historically women have trained as men but they’re not men like. Yes it’s a continuum in the like levels of hormones that women have. Isn’t that all the same in women. But you know women are fundamentally different to men. And I actually also believes that women training as men boys try out girls training as boys. There’s actually a big reason why not any women don’t reach their full potential. Oh say why girls drop out from sports because if they’re you know training with the boys training as the boys boys hit puberty get testosterone get really really strong girls hit puberty and can go through a sort of or could phase they’re not training appropriately necessarily and they get discouraged and drop out. In sports I think that’s a very significant thing that needs to be addressed see. OK so you’re saying.

[00:13:49] So when girls hit puberty because the results of puberty for girls are different than they are for boys and boys and their increased levels of testosterone that kind of fitness or strength gap gets exacerbated or expanded and that can lead to girls feeling like they’re not good enough and so they drop out. Absolutely. I mean it can affect their self-confidence. And you know just massively discouraged them. My goodness. So really this kind of cycle of engagement and who is or is not a quote unquote athlete. Those messages are embedded very young ages. Exactly. Yeah perpetuate it differently right. So perpetuated through the physiology of our body is perpetuated through media representations perpetuated through messages we might receive from our family friends and other communities that we’re connected to. So gosh it feels a little bit like there’s just something coming from every angle. I know that to undermine girls growing up and their engagement in sport which then leads to a lack of women who are engaging at a high level in the athletic endeavors huh. Yeah. And I think you knew it such is. Is it if you step back and look at it anything oh my gosh. That’s terrible. It is. But it also highlights the fact that there’s so much we can do and there’s so much I feel really excited by it in a way like I was a vet and the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene last week. And outside the entrance a Nike were running this made to play campaign. And they were just highlighting some key statistics around and girls activity in sports.

[00:15:30] And one statistic that they held up Hadow on on a board was by the age of 14 girls are dropping out of sports at twice the rate of boys. And like that in itself just made me think that is crazy like. And then another one globally goes a half as active as boys like that’s just names that have been as you said like embeddedness such a young age. Yeah those statistics are pretty terrifying in many ways in the sense of like we need to do so much more and we need to do it at kind of four four five six. You know a young young ages for girls. Exactly. So what what is it that you’re doing. Like you have an app that’s coming out it sounds like called that or Wilmot’s or how do you how do you see that helping some of these things we just talked about. Right. Well and so as you said I work for our Akay and our Rako have a real passion in the female athlete and I guess when I first joined or AK We one of cricket establish the Ashie. There’s not that more we didn’t have many female clients because there’s not the money in female sports. The CEO of Arcade don’t cry more has a real history of working with female athletes as does Charlie Pedler and Nathan Lewis who are actually Finisar here. The other key members of the science team and am I guess all of us together sat down and we established them. You know there is this real need to develop understanding in females but also get the right messages to female athletes.

[00:17:12] So my colleagues are a coach who is the product development manager as she works on the implementation of all of the ideas we come up with. We came up with the idea for m fitter women and see Fetu women effectively aims to help girls and women and optimize their training and performance based on where they are in their menstrual cycle. But also a story that we have sort of for I guess four pillars or four anes full goals. So to increase participation and to educate players athletes coaches individuals and teaches parents like everyone about them as just like what it means what’s going on in an individual’s body. At any one time optimize performance. As I said like the aim of Arico is always to optimize performance and then to really advance research. As I said like some you know there is some really good research going on but there needs to be so so much more. So we feel very passionate about really developing this. And I guess like the first we decided that the best way to do this is to create an app to reach as many people as possible say we’ve created this app for to women which is free and available on embrace the app store and on Google Play.

[00:18:39] And I’m afraid to be through the app an individual can log in and chuck them as will cycle check their symptoms their training and then like alongside that they will gain information about what the best exercises they should be doing training wise and then some nutritional information say Top Foods to include so we know that in their premenstrual phase it’s really important to focus on anti inflammatory feeds because as I said like PR mess is partly driven by information and you can really be smart with your diet and register your intake of sugary foods and you know really to do something to reduce symptoms. And then we’ll say we’ve done a lot of like user feedback into say again my Michaľany Granya can Ephrem is very like one of her jobs is to go out and speak to as many people as possible. So we’ve been speaking to typical users and finding out what they what they would like to see what they would like to learn and we found that many interestingly I think it’s partly a psychological thing that girls like to know why and if we can educate them as to why then they’re more likely to change their behaviors. So we’ve included a whole section on physiology so actually why is it they are heart rate increases at certain times of the month. Why is it the new breathing rate increase might increase asthma symptoms might be worse. So we’ve really kind of developed that as well. And then we all say like have a means to kind of share any like tips or latest information. And I guess like the other actually quite key thing is to highlight times where a risk of injury might be increased. Say for example anterior cruciate ligament injury is already increased in women than men. And but at certain times in the menstrual cycle it’s been found that this has increased somewhat further. So as opposed to saying to someone watch out you’re going to get into it today is all about providing practical solutions and tips to reduce risk say you know they might want to change they will muffle their will down or their post.

[00:20:49] Training and nutrition say there’s loads of things that we’ve kind of tried to capture in in this app and what we’re really really excited about it. Well it’s just that there’s a lot that was a lot that this app can do so I’m excited to download it. And do you see that there is a difference between an elite athletes. They affect their menstrual cycle has an elite athlete their training versus a recreational athlete. Does it change with age. Any Yelena’s that is in there. So we need it. Like young athletes for example are more likely to have an irregular menstrual cycle. And part of what we do is we also work on an individual basis with athletes who you know might have a dysfunctional psychosis they might have heavy meds reading for example or they might have another sort of you know a main area. So there are definite definite groups who are more susceptible to that kind of. And I guess like from an elite athlete perspective yes. And we’re actually currently just building an Elite version specifically of that which will have a coach’s version alongside military. I mean essentially the information is is very similar. It’s just an obviously elite athlete doesn’t have the opportunity to manipulate their training like Norse records or someone who’s just not coached or not coached to their down to the tee would have more flexibility. I guess. Yeah because I think about that my own coaching training for a triathlon either. There was nothing about the menstrual cycle and what that might mean for my athletes and then I’m also that may makes me also think about.

[00:22:37] There was nothing on the menopause and how that could also shift athletic performance or kind of training schedules or what’s needed. Have you addressed menopause at all of us are connected issue. Yeah great question. So you menopause Imperium postpartum. All next topics. Absolutely like a key key thing to look at. And I think you are very very important and again the men imposes clearly something which is is a bit of a taboo as well and people don’t really want to talk about it say I think like part of the beauty of the app something that we’re very keen to utilize it for is to get the conversation going and get people talking about it make it acceptable to discuss it or if there is a coached athlete the coach can see where there actually is an image. I guess they don’t have to publicly have a conversation as well. So yes definitely. In short our next plan is menopause and pre and postpartum. Ok so I just want to ask a clarifying question. So if I download the app. Yes. And then my coach has a coach app canape. They connect with each other so she could see yes. Like not right this second. So we actually I’m going to start this app on cheese day. OK. So it’s all good. We. And yeah this is like the first version. There are like our heads going down. We’ve got meeting two weeks to plan out the coach’s version and where she is showcasing in the UK like her kind of prototype of it in a month’s time.

[00:24:09] But like the development plan is absolutely that we’re going to have a coachers fashion. We really feel like that’s necessary but obviously we kind of you know baby steps I keep getting really carried away and wanting to build everything right now as I’m always told I need to calm down a little bit and step by step. Yes. I mean I think that’s brilliant. Right. I’m just thinking about the fact that the stat you quoted earlier about how you like not 20 at 19 percent or so of a particularly young women athletes or even talking to their coaches about this. Because of that culturally created embarrassment or disgust. And so this app could offer a means of a coach is educated and informed without perhaps the athlete feeling like they have to have an uncomfortable or awkward conversation. Exactly. And indeed I was I was I’ve just come back from doing a bit of around the world tour talking about our work in the appen and I went to see and speak to a group of young girls and like I’ve I’ve had such a range of different experiences speaking to different people in a way this kind of really taught me the most and I was in Australia in Melbourne and actually Sonia a Sullivan who was just so inspiring as an individual like arranged for me to go to her daughter’s running club and to present to a group of girls there and it was just so nice it really brought it kind of back to reality and really to the ground level of how much of a difference this can make in some of these kids like one of the mums came up to me and said Who.

[00:25:45] Yes so I’m a little bit worried because I don’t know if my daughter started her menstrual cycle as it. Have you asked her. You No we didn’t talk about that and I think that’s mad absolutely mad. So like it really really highlighted to me the power that something like this can have gosh yes. You’re not even talking about with your daughter frantically in your home about menstruation and in and then if there is a lack of education in the schools about what it is and then that child is engaging athletically then there is no wonder that they’re embarrassed or ashamed or don’t want to participate or can’t talk about it. No it’s nothing it is but it’s exciting because there’s so much potential. That’s the best buy in 2000. No I think you’re right. And it is kind of it’s it’s a little disturbing that we’re in 2018 and that there is this you know vast expanse of potential because we haven’t quite addressed this issue yet. And I’m thinking back to there was a picture that was circulating on social media it was the last yearly before that a young woman ran the I think the London Marathon and she was bleeding and she didn’t wear a tampon or a pad or anything and so you could see the blood on her. Running your pen. And she did that purposefully to draw attention to the fact that it’s not it’s not wrong it’s not bad it’s not disgusting it’s a natural function of being a woman. And yes you can still run a marathon on your period. Exactly.

[00:27:17] And essentially no indication of a healthy athlete really you know if male menstruating like many athletes don’t like that is is and so did up to 69 percent of athletes in certain sports don’t menstruate rockety. So and that’s like regardless of conscious by use of contraception. So that’s you know that’s he’s so actually like in the regular menstrual cycle is an indication of how Yeah and I’ve definitely heard that some women athletes who are training at a fairly high volume and intensity their menstrual cycle will reduce or become irregular. Yes. And that’s just kind of how it’s been presented to me is that that’s kind of a quote unquote natural consequence of being of working that hard. Yeah but it actually is an indicator of something not working properly is that right. Exactly. Say yeah that. I mean we work closely with the group in Boston at Boston Children’s Hospital Dr Kate Akman and her team. And we’ve just done this big study looking at basically the effects of not menstruating Reguly and having a low energy availability and often there’s a number of reasons why your menstrual cycle can still hold become a regular bet in insufficient fueling overtraining and excess stress. Ashley lots of travel can cause a regular menstrual cycles as well. It is you know we know that there are performance that treatments based on and not having thing making them as was. So I think that again that’s another area that really needs to be clarified and people need to appreciate that yes an athlete may be a man of can and they may be performing well for so sorry a minaret is that they don’t have a period and they may perform well in the short term.

[00:29:15] But then the long term issues that surround that’s a very significant and I think awareness really really needs to be raised about you know just made me think of something in terms of engaging coaches or families in understanding the effects of the menstrual cycle on an athletic performance or or interest in being athletic. You know there’s a cultural narrative that exists that has been used to diminish women’s contribution and engagement in the workplace or in other areas. You know while there just PMs saying well there they have they’re just cranky because they’re on their period. Do you see. Do you have any concern or worry that with a coach in particular knowing more understanding more closely the cycle and the symptoms that those narratives might creep into here the way a coach could engage with it to bring their athlete question and say the aim of the OP and the aim of our program is I call it the No Excuses up. So the aim is actually to provide information to get girls and women to the point where there isn’t there need not be an impact. Like I my nightmare. So I worked with a number of individual athletes and my nightmare is that they’ll come to me and say My Olympic final is going to fall on the worst day of my menstrual cycle. Nah like our aim is to not let not let there be that variation performance so we don’t like we don’t want athletes to be reporting symptoms we don’t want athletes to be saying that they feel bad. We want to provide them with the solutions to stop that. And obviously you know I can’t I can’t think that we’re going to solve that.

[00:31:04] Change the world then find solutions to everything that you know we want to do our best to reduce that impact. And I think actually speaking to a lot of Lexia early teams and elite athletes we know they’re often like the Keisha’s once seemed to be ready and able to play like all the coach cares about is for them to see the coach cares about their health. But a coach needs them to be on the pitch ready to go. So our job as an applied partition is is to support them with that and to provide them with the tools to get them there. So I think. Yes I like completely we are coming from. I really feel strongly that the app has got to be a no excuse and Zarka our program is a no excuses program like we want to do everything we can to Carinya if there’s a real problem if there’s a dysfunction going on. So if someone has a really severe pain or they are a heavy major that’s affecting them then we need to get to the root cause of it so we can’t just accept it anymore. Yes. I like that kind of philosophy the no excuses and that it’s not OK. And it’s particularly not OK for a coach to dismiss a young woman or a girl who’s participating in sports based on knowledge of this cycle right or based on kind of maybe these historically an archaic understanding what it means to actually have a period. Conversely right.

[00:32:27] That in many ways girls and women I think have been taught to use their period as an excuse to not be not through any fault of their own but because it’s been drummed in that there’s something while it’s natural it’s also wrong and icky right. And so you don’t you don’t really participate and so it’s this weird. Kind of the cycle where you feel that way as an athlete participating in sport and culture kind of reinforces that. And then maybe you’ve had people be crappy to you because they accuse you of being moody because you’re on your period and we’re all kind of feeds into this really like unpleasant reality that’s almost like a house of cards right and it sounds like what you’re trying to do is like disrupts that completely. Exactly. It’s like yeah I think you know we really really want to emphasize the fact that exercising when you are menstruating is a really positive thing. And your metals like oil does not need to hold you back say. I’m currently working right. The Women’s Sports Trust in the UK to come up with some information and education team coaches and athlete support personnel to really hammer home the fact that you know you can do anything when you’re menstruating late and we need to change that stigma. And I think like myself when I was I was 11 when I started my period and I was a swimmer and like the whole thing terrified me. And I wish that I knew now. Like actually that’s OK. Like you know I I can still swim I can still do what I want to do. And like over I realize pretty quickly because I didn’t want to not train. I think you know that awareness is really needed.

[00:34:08] I remember that school when some of my friends were just they don’t know and remember I can swim today or I don’t feel very well I can go and play netball but it needs to be needed. I think that’s a real area that we can really really work in and work on and change things. And I just feel so determined that we’ve actually got to do that. And you know now is the time. And I think people are embracing talking about them as was like and as I said earlier a little bit more like maybe an elite athletes are like we can like they can be called Mieses and skis and I understand why is because there are the solutions in place that are well established that we need to get them out there. And that is definitely part of the reason for our whole fit to women program yeah for sure and I’m just thinking that the example you used in school and your friends saying that they couldn’t swim all day didn’t feel or they want to train like you have if one of you they are more educated. Yeah true school of Italy then that’s probably not a conclusion they’re going to come to here. But if they do come to a conclusion and you have an educated teacher or coach then they can sit down privately with the young girl you know and say hey actually this isn’t necessarily the truth I know you might feel crummy right now but you know going for Iran during a swim might actually make you feel better and here’s why. Exactly.

[00:35:30] And I think you hit the nail on the head with the why like is the here’s why I think is so fundamental and NASA believes like ninety eight 9 year olds need to be told about this process is going to happen to make it no more and boys as well. You know. Yeah. We just need to appreciate that it is as a normal not to a process that we shouldn’t be afraid of yeah. I’m your last point there about boys. I just saw something floating around on Facebook about the need to educate boys about the menstrual cycle in the period because if it’s right now it’s taboo even among women and girls who have that monthly experience but it’s even more taboo among boys that if you don’t educate young boys about what this is and what it means and how natural and healthy it is then the problem is just it’s bifurcated and then exacerbated exactly in terms of shame. And if we think about it the vast majority of coaches are men. And I think like I was at the LTA say that no intelligence satiation Coaches Conference last year and I would say at least Furley 70 percent of the 400 coaches that I presented to you were men and I felt for them I really really did because they were like well what do we do about it. Like how can we approach this Sanaa’s like we’re doing this out right now because they need this information. So I think you know there is is really hard been like working in FEMA supporters as a male and I really feel for them because it’s not something which many coaches find easy to bring up and I’m vividly remember a while back with one of my previous running cages.

[00:37:12] I remember one of my friends telling him she was on her period and she had really heavy legs and he’s he says something like whoa you better go home then that’s Hazmat like he has his crazy like Susan is an elite athlete just is no outrated. Q Right. Absolutely. And then you know I’m just like the connected issue of the overrepresentation of men in coaching that’s a whole other podcast’s in terms of men dominate the coaching circles. But then you couple that with men men and boys are not educated about the menstrual cycle. It is considered taboo to talk about or an invasion of privacy or just not something that you know then that just compounds the issue when they’re coaching women athletes. Zach gosh this is so interesting so go for our listeners. Georgie what would be if you could give them three things to think about or take away or do related to your research and what you hope and how you hope to change the conversation around athletic performance and the menstrual cycle. What would be your top three. OK so a recommendation and I mean I kid like shamelessly say laid out that I feel like a by downloading Nabb or at least just educating yourself to understand the whys is actually so interesting. Like yes I may be a bit of a physiology geek but I do just think it is actually really an interesting and important to understand what SMERSH FEMA male perspective what happens in the body through the menstrual cycles I think to understand that is really really important and then I would say you knew just talking about it making it a step you say.

[00:38:52] All of our science team are men. My research and my supervisor my Ph.D. were men and I feel like we really kind of break that barrier very quickly of discussing the menstrual cycle and just feeling comfortable to say okay it’s a change in hormones do a typical 28 day process I guess not that you bleed once a month. Actually things are changing throughout the cycle so look at it much more objectively and seeing that and then I guess my final thing is just psych from a young kids perspective I feel so strongly about and helping them to appreciate and understand and for anyone who has kids like just make it a norm with discussion like I remember again like speaking to my dad about it he would still now like a dazing he can tell anyone what I do because I think he’s too embarrassed to say it too. He’s crazy. The funny thing is I only realize when I was like just finishing my Ph.D. that I have no idea what he’s been telling the other day when they are not but he knows the world. But you know what they mean. And so being gay is just like yeah I mean it all comes down to awareness. Being proactive and just like you know thinking as a woman like you’re in such a niche position. And I also see like huge translations to the working world like you know there’s many things that we can do and not necessarily involving exercise for many attritional because right from a lifestyle perspective to really optimize ourselves and optimize our well-being based on this change in home. OK so download the app.

[00:40:30] Talk about it more normalize the talking about it and spread the love spread the education. Definitely benefit the kids. They’re specially to the Phoenix. Yeah. Yeah. The children are our future. I’m well thank you so much Jaji for talking with us today. I have learned a ton from you and I’m very excited about your app and I will include a link to the fitted woman at the show notes and I am also excited to hear how your research continues and the coaching app that will be released later on. So maybe we could circle back around when you have some of those new products so those new ideas a little bit more formulated and we can hear what you’ve been up to definitely definitely. Thank you so much for having me.

[00:41:24] You’re welcome.

[00:41:26] Thanks again to Dr. George Bruinvels valves for joining us today and for sharing her research into the menstrual cycle and its effects on women and girls athletic performance and their desire to participate in school for show notes including related links and a full transcript of the episode visit You can also find hundreds of additional podcasts on WiSP Sports Radio. Subscribe to us using your preferred podcast player. And don’t forget to leave us a review on iTunes for more conversations from the world of women’s school including blogs articles and videos. Visit Post your comments questions and suggestions on our Facebook page or email us at  And follow and share @wispsports on social media. You can reach me Lisa Ingarfield directly at try to find @tritodefi on Twitter and Instagram.

[00:42:22] Thank you for listening and supporting women in sport everywhere. We’ll be back next month with another in-depth thought provoking conversation.


Photo: Georgia Bruinvels supplied
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Most Popular

WiSP Sports Mission Statement 

The core values of WiSP Sports are based on the following principles to:

  • Honor women’s stories and the right to play
  • Maintain women’s dignity 
  • Protect women’s integrity in sport and society
  • Strive to achieve gender equality and fairness in all sporting endeavors
  • Empower women of all generations
  • Celebrate the achievements of women athletes in all sports

By submitting this form, you are granting: WiSP Sports, WiSP Sports, Jasper, GA, 30143, permission to email you. You may unsubscribe via the link found at the bottom of every email. (See our Email Privacy Policy ( for details.) Emails are serviced by Constant Contact.

WiSP Sports, Inc. Copyright © 2017 All Rights Reserved.

To Top