The menstrual cycle and sport performance

Clin Sports Med. 2005 Apr;24(2):e51-82, xiii-xiv. doi: 10.1016/j.csm.2005.01.003.


The female sex steroid hormones estrogen and progesterone have potential effects on exercise capacity and performance through numerous mechanisms, such as substrate metabolism, cardiorespiratory function, thermoregulation, psychologic factors, and injuries. Consequently, hormone level changes may theoretically lead to either improved or decreased performance at various times throughout the menstrual cycle. Numerous methodological issues and a paucity of studies have precluded evidence-based conclusions in almost every area of research in this field. In addition, there appears to be a great degree of inter- and intraindividual variability in these hormonal responses. Using oral contraceptives may be advantageous for female athletes who are negatively affected by their menstrual cycle, as they may provide a stable yet controllable hormonal milieu for training and competition.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anaerobic Threshold / physiology
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament / physiopathology
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries
  • Athletic Injuries / physiopathology
  • Athletic Injuries / prevention & control
  • Body Temperature Regulation / physiology
  • Cardiovascular Physiological Phenomena
  • Contraceptives, Oral, Hormonal / pharmacology
  • Doping in Sports / prevention & control
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Female
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones / physiology
  • Humans
  • Menstrual Cycle / drug effects
  • Menstrual Cycle / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Physical Education and Training / methods
  • Psychomotor Performance / drug effects
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Respiratory Physiological Phenomena
  • Sports / physiology*


  • Contraceptives, Oral, Hormonal
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones