ATU Galway students wins national award for research on impact of menstrual cycle on athletes

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Galway Daily news
Colette Collins, a 2022 graduate of the ATU B.Sc. (Hons) in Sport and Exercise Science was awarded the ‘2022 SURE Network Award for Best Oral Presentation’ at the annual SURE Network conference in TU Dublin on 14 October.

A student at Atlantic Technological University Galway won a prestigious national science award for research into the impact of the menstrual cycle on athletic performance.

Colette Collins, who graduated last month with her B.Sc. (Hons) in Sport and Exercise Science from ATU, took home the Best Oral Presentation prize at this year’s Science Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) Network Conference.

Colette won this award for her research presentation entitled, “Exploring the relationship between the menstrual cycle and markers of physical performance in intercounty Ladies Gaelic Football player”.

Dr Siobhan Leahy, who supervised Colette’s research said, “Colette’s achievement in winning this award is just reward for a huge amount of work that went into the planning and conduct of her project.”

“This is a hugely important area of the research with the potential to inform planning of training programs and phases for female athletes competing at all levels”.

For the study, 20 inter-county players were recruited during the pre-season training phase.
All players completed a detailed online survey.

Two distinct phases of the menstrual cycle were subsequently identified, the early follicular phase (day 1-5) and the mid-luteal phase (20-25).

Over the next month, the participants were tested during these two phases, via a 20m sprint test and a maximal jump height test.

Overall, the participants had a significantly slower sprint time in the early follicular phase in comparison to the mid-luteal phase with no difference in jump height observed.

Speaking about her research, Colette noted that half of the athletes taking part in the research believe that their menstrual cycle symptoms affected their playing performance.

“In addition, the qualitative survey analysis highlighted the lack of player awareness or understanding of the potential impact of the menstrual cycle on sport.”

“Furthermore, despite the prevalence of symptoms, only 15% of players had previously discussed this issue with their coach.”

Players also declined to highlight recurrent concerns regarding sufficient changing and sanitary facilities at matches.” says Colette.

She said that women’s health should be considered during formal reviews of athletes’ performances, and that their needs to be better communication between coaches and their athletes.

“Completing this research was an eye opener from start to finish”, she says. “The taboo surrounding the menstrual cycle is still evidently present in today’s society at all levels in sport.”

“It has spiked a major passion within me for menstrual cycle specific research in sport and I hope to continue to progress the literature in this area going forward.”

“A huge thank you to my supervisor Dr Siobhan Leahy for her help and guidance throughout this process”.

The 2022 SURE Network Conference was jointly hosted by Technological University Dublin (TUD) and South-East Technological University (SETU), Carlow, in October.