Background: Female soccer has grown extensively in recent years, however differences in gender-specific physiology have rarely been considered. The female reproductive hormones which rise and fall throughout the menstrual cycle, are known to affect numerous cardiovascular, respiratory, thermoregulatory and metabolic parameters, which in turn, may have implications on exercise physiology and soccer performance. Therefore, the main aim of the present study was to investigate potential effects of menstrual cycle phase on performance in soccer specific tests. Methods: Nine sub elite female soccer players, all of whom have menstrual cycles of physiological length; performed a series of physical performance tests (Yo-Yo Intermittent endurance test (Yo-Yo IET), counter movement jump (CMJ) and 3×30 m sprints). These were conducted at distinct time points during two main phases of the menstrual cycle (early follicular phase (FP) and mid luteal phase (LP)) where hormones contrasted at their greatest magnitude. Results: Yo-Yo IET performance was considerably lower during the mid LP (2833±896 m) as compared to the early FP (3288±800 m). A trend towards significance was observed (p = 0.07) and the magnitude based inferences suggested probabilities of 0/61/39 for superiority/equality/inferiority of performance during the mid LP, leading to the inference of a possibly harmful effect. For CMJ (early FP, 20.0±3.9 cm; mid LP 29.6±3.0 cm, p = 0.33) and sprint (early FP, 4.7±0.1 s; mid LP, 4.7±0.1 s, p = 0.96) performances the results were unclear (8/24/68, 48/0/52, respectively). Conclusion: The results of this study are in support of a reduction in maximal endurance performance during the mid LP of the menstrual cycle. However, the same effect was not observed for jumping and sprint performance. Therefore, consideration of cycle phase when monitoring a player's endurance capacity may be worthwhile.
Julian, R., Hecksteden, A., Fullagar, H. H. K., & Meyer, T. (2017). The effects of menstrual cycle phase on physical performance in female soccer players. PLoS ONE, 12(3). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0173951