Published in Dance Magazine
For dancers, the ups and downs of a menstrual cycle can be inconvenient, to say the least. But learning how the monthly hormone fluctuations affect you can help you understand your mood, energy and appetite, and even your focus, coordination and confidence in the studio. It also makes your cycle that much easier to manage—and even embrace.
Week 1: Menses—Purge & Restart
You may feel unusually tired. Photo via Unsplash
What’s Happening: Your period lasts three to seven days, during which time you will lose 50 to 100ml of menstrual fluid. The uterus contracts to expel the broken-down uterine lining; estrogen and progesterone levels are at their lowest ebb. After a couple of days, estrogen levels start rising.
How It Affects Dancers: At first you might have some abdominal cramping from the uterine contractions. Some women experience fluid retention, bloating, constipation or diarrhea. You may feel unusually tired, especially if you have low iron.
What You Can Do: Dr. Selina Shah, a physician and former professional dancer, recommends taking a low dose of anti-inflammatories for the cramps and avoiding caffeine, which may exacerbate the pain. The old heat-pack remedy on the stomach or lower back can ease discomfort when you’re not dancing. A few small studies have found that omega-3 fatty acids can reduce period pain—but check with your doctor first.