The Impact of Menstrual Cycle Education on Female Athletes' Performance

Dr Natalie Brown works with elite female athletes looking at the impact of their periods and their cycle on performance. It was their lack of knowledge that led her to question what was being taught in schools.

Funded by Sport Wales, the ‘teachers’ perceptions and experiences of menstrual cycle education and support in UK schools’ study is the latest stage of research into the impact of the menstrual cycle on female participation in sport.

A survey of 789 UK school teachers found that only 53% of secondary school teachers reported that menstrual cycle education lessons were taught in their school. Of the teachers who were aware of their school’s menstrual cycle syllabus, 144 reported that a maximum of two lessons were provided per year. 90% of teachers that responded to the survey were female and almost one in four (23%) reported that they were uncomfortable teaching about the menstrual cycle.

The study also found that teachers felt periods affected attendance, participation in exercise, as well as behaviour and confidence.

The report recommended giving teachers more time, training and support to deliver classes regularly as well as providing more information on the emotional and social aspects of the menstrual cycle.

Dr Brown commented: “It should no longer be a taboo subject. We need to reframe the narrative and normalise conversations about menstruation.”