Effects of menstrual cycle phase on athletic performance

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1995 Mar;27(3):437-44.


The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of menstrual cycle phase on four selected indices of athletic performance: aerobic capacity, anaerobic capacity, isokinetic strength, and high intensity endurance. Sixteen eumenorrheic women (VO2max > or = 50 ml.kg-1.min-1) were tested during the early follicular (F) and midluteal (L) phases of the menstrual cycle. Cycle phases were confirmed by serum estradiol and progesterone assays. No significant differences were observed between F and L tests in weight, percent body fat, sum of skinfolds, hemoglobin concentration, hematocrit, maximum heart rate, maximum minute ventilation, maximum respiratory exchange ratio, anaerobic performance, endurance time to fatigue (at 90% of VO2max), or isokinetic strength of knee flexion and extension. Both absolute and relative VO2max, however, were slightly lower in L than in F (F = 3.19 +/- 0.09.min-1, L = 3.13 +/- 0.08.min-1, P = 0.04; and F = 53.7 +/- 0.9 ml.kg-1.min-1, L = 52.8 +/- 0.8 ml.kg-1.min-1, P = 0.06). These results suggest that the cyclic increases in endogenous female steroid hormones of an ovulatory menstrual cycle may have a slight, deleterious influence on aerobic capacity, with potential implications for individual athletes. Nevertheless, the cycle phase did not impact significantly on the majority of the other performance tests and cardiorespiratory variables measured in this study.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anaerobic Threshold / physiology*
  • Body Weight
  • Estradiol / blood
  • Female
  • Follicular Phase / physiology
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Hematocrit
  • Hemoglobins / analysis
  • Humans
  • Luteal Phase / physiology
  • Menstrual Cycle / physiology*
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology*
  • Physical Endurance / physiology*
  • Progesterone / blood
  • Pulmonary Gas Exchange / physiology
  • Respiration / physiology
  • Skinfold Thickness
  • Sports / physiology*


  • Hemoglobins
  • Progesterone
  • Estradiol