After the heat that the last installment brought, you people know I could not help but come back for round two, because I enjoy hurt butts even when they're not the direct result of fisting porn. Additionally, it's insane that women will fly off the fucking handle insisting that there's no reason to discuss the issues that female hormones create when lifting and competing, as ifegalitarianism does not extend to one's fucking endocrine system. Your ovaries give two fucks about your bra burning, logic-free, Gloria Steinem-fueled misplaced rage- estrogen plays merry hell with brains and bodies and there's no shame in admitting that bleeding profusely for a week might make you a wee bit testy.
Before you go reaching for the nearest sharp implement and start googling my address, ladies, you might want to take a step back and remind yourselves that I'm not talking shit- this entire series arose out of the fact that it never occurred to me that the timing or overall incidence of a period could have any effect whatsoever on training. Everyone trains hurt, or sick, or tired, so it was just a matter of rubbing some dirt on your vags and sucking it the fuck up, in my mind. Then I started helping out my buddy Nuprin, and discovered that there's a whole host of bullshit you vaginally endowed people have to deal with that no man would even consider, because we're self-absorbed assholes who generally avoid the topic of periods to avoid getting screamed at (not because we're squeamish, because I would be hideously disappointed in any man who would wade in the red river but not drink from it).
It's claimed that the historical Amazon tribe had their right breast either burnt off or cut out to enable them to better throw their javelins, but this practice (if it indeed occurred) may have served a secondary purpose- lowering estrogen levels. Given that aromatase expression primarily occurs in fatty tissue (Nelson), removal of a significant portion of these ancient bloodthirsty mankillers' extant body fat might have helped them increase body mass and strength, in addition to reducing the duration and intensity of their periods.
Maybe they let the hottest Amazons keep both.
Though any man who's spent much time in the iron game likely feels compelled to view estrogen and progesterone as the hormonal equivalent of AIDS, however, both hormones play a number of valuable of roles in the lives of women. Backed by a couple of studies and absolutely every argument-turned-attempted-murder-with-thrown-flatware ever initiated by a woman on her period, high estrogen levels confer improved verbal fluidity and improved motor skills, though perceptual object priming (the ability to associate like objects or words) is greatly reduced... which I suppose those arguments are so long and yet remain nonsensical after hours of repetition (Makia). Estrogen also prevents bone loss and helps keep the vagina lubricated (Estrogen). Not all of the effects are positive, however, as estrogen's role on female mental health is still a complete mystery. As I have no interest in being accused of gender bias, allow me to simply copy and paste directly from Web Md:
"Hormones and the Brain
That's not to say estrogen isn't a major player in regulating moods. Estrogen acts everywhere in the body, including the parts of the brain that control emotion.
Some of estrogen's effects include:
What these effects mean in an individual woman is impossible to predict. Estrogen's actions are too complex for researchers to understand fully. As an example, despite estrogen's apparently positive effects on the brain, many women's moods improve after menopause, when estrogen levels are very low.
- Increasing serotonin, and the number of serotonin receptors in the brain
- Modifying the production and the effects of endorphins, the "feel-good" chemicals in the brain
- Protecting nerves from damage, and possibly stimulating nerve growth
Some experts believe that some women are more vulnerable to the menstrual cycle's normal changes in estrogen. They suggest it's the roller coaster of hormones during the reproductive years that create mood disturbances.
Estrogen and Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
As many as 90% of women experience unpleasant symptoms before their periods. If symptoms are reliably severe enough to interfere with quality of life, it's defined as premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Generally speaking, PMS is present when:
Bloating, swelling of arms or legs, and breast tenderness are the usual physical symptoms. Feeling overly emotional, experiencing depression, anger and irritability, or having anxiety and social withdrawal may be present. As many as 20% to 40% of women may have PMS at some point in life" (Web MD).
- Physical and emotional symptoms occur reliably a few days before multiple consecutive menses (periods)
- The symptoms go away after completing a period and don't occur at other times
- The symptoms cause significant personal problems (such as at work, school, or in relationships)
- No medicines, drugs, alcohol, or other health condition might be to blame.
Given that neither science nor women themselves have a handle on how estrogen levels affect their moods, it's unsurprising that the Amazons were as hard as they were after surgically lowering their estrogen levels. The latter bit of the Web MD writeup was of particular importance for female athletes, though, especially when it comes to meet timing. Bloating and swelling will make it hard to make weight, emotional swings will make it hard to focus, and the fact that women suffer pronounced ligament and tendon laxity, neuromuscular coordination, and postural control will make stability and power on the platform an issue, in addition to raising the possibility of injury considerably (Fridén). Not when I refer to "power" I don't refer to the ability to generate strength- I'm referring to the ability to apply that strength against an unsecured load. Actual muscular strength, as measured by machines, appears to remarkably unaffected by premenstrual syndrome according to studies (Frieden, et al), as are VO2 max and endurance (Xanne), though one study showed females peak strength to occur mid-ovulatory period and that strength decreased and susceptibility to fatigue increased as shark week drew near .
Officially the greatest shark week underwear in history.
So, then, what's the point in caring what phase of the menstrual cycle a chick is in when planning a meet? Of greatest import is the issue of tendon laxity. Women are four to eight times more likely to suffer an ACL injury than men (Wojtys), and that seems to be due in large part to the laxity in tendons and ligaments in the follicular (days 1-@9) and luteal phases (@19-30). This coincides with self reported evidence, in which women often claimed to feel muscular weakness during their luteal phase (PMS and the shark week itself). Thus, it's likely unwise to compete in strength sports on one's period, if for no other reason than the drastic increase in the chance of a ruptured tendon or ligament, something to which I can personally attest blows ass harder than a leather-clad dude on meth and poppers in a gay scat video.
Not pictured- the chick I asked. This is just some random powerlifter. Oddly, chicks are reticent to be associated with this blog. Go figure.
Given that this is all conjecture on my part, I decided to consult a top ranked female powerlifter in regards to her opinion on competing during her period. She felt that the biggest issue was making weight, and had the following to say on the subject:
Meet Timing and Water Retention
I personally, never ever compete during shark week. I suppose I'm just fortunate in the sense my body works on a regular cycle and my stress levels (always high) remain pretty consistent. I've talked with more than one sister lifter who routinely competes while on it and can never quite match her gym totals.
Why would you ever?
If you're a chick you've been there. It's not a lack of aggression, it's a ton of unfocused white hot aggression. Everything pisses you off. Every single comment, every stupid misplaced dish, and your boyfriend's lack of understanding of how to just give you the damn chocolate and walk the fuck away.
If you bothered to read the earlier blog you'll realize we're not making this shit up. It's not really our fault we go bat shit crazy sometimes.
You'll stand at a bar getting antsy and angry at the same time. Concerned that you'll squeeze so fucking hard your blood stopper will slip out causing all kinds of embarrassment on the platform. Fuck it, it's not even worth the aggravation.
Cutting water is an even bigger nightmare. If you want to not even have problems cutting the water? Try timing meets right after your menstrual cycle.
I'm not saying you can't make weight while you're pmsing, just saying it is rather unpleasant and stressful.
Apparently a chick suffering from menstrual bloating.
As my buddy stated, women suffer from a sharp increase in fluid-regulatory hormones and plasma renin activity, both of which result in edema, during the crimson horror. This means they're retaining water at a much higher rate than usual (Hirshoren). Obviously, and as the anonymous female above stated, that's going to make competing a bitch from a "making weight" standpoint, nevermind the discomfort of feeling swollen and wearing a belt while your intestines are holding extra water and gas. Neither of those two results are particularly conducive to setting records on fire at meets, which is yet another reason why the red scare makes competing a pain in the vagina.
Supposed to be what chicks say during their period. I must know a lot of chicks on their periods.
Another issue facing women, especially those suffering through a crime scene in their pants, is anemia. Around a quarter of the female populace in the United States is anemic (Percent), and this number likely increases during the luteal phase of menstruation. That can have a profound effect on performance in the gym, and studies have shown that iron supplementation can increase sports performance in women with mild anemia (which of course would indicate that people with more severe anemia would benefit even more greatly) (LaManca). Iron supplementation has been shown to increase VO2 max, decrease blood lactate, increase endurance time to exhaustion, increase muscular endurance and strength and decrease fatigue (LaManca, Brutsaert).
Cramps seem to suck pretty hard.
In summary, ladies, your body pretty much fucking hates you for about ten days a month. If you're going to pick an ideal day to max out or compete, the middle of your cycle would be ideal, and the beginning of your cycle would be your best choice. As we've detailed, however, shark week is definitely not the time to do it. If you're training during that week (which is supposed to help relieve cramps), it might help to supplement with charcoal and goldenseal or dandelion root for the gas and bloating, electrolytes just to balance your salts, curcumin and white willow bark (or aspirin) for inflammation and pain, and vitex to help balance your hormones and control your progesterone levels.
And bros, don't consign your women to the red tent- chicks are crazy horny on their periods (Englander), and orgasms and vaginal stimulation in general increase women's pain threshhold (Whipple). Less pain means less irritation means less fights means everyone's life is better. Thus, you better up your oral skills, because not only do we not trust a man who will not wade in the red river at Chaos and Pain, we do not trust the man who refuses to drink from it, either.
Brutsaert TD, Hernandez-Cordero S, Rivera J, Viola T, Hughes G, Haas JD. Iron supplementation improves progressive fatigue resistance during dynamic knee extensor exercise in iron-depleted, nonanemic women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003 Feb;77(2):441-8.
Englander-Golden P, Chang HS, Whitmore MR, Dienstbier RA. Female sexual arousal and the menstrual cycle. J Human Stress. 1980 Mar;6(1):42-8.
Fridén, C. Neuromuscular performance and balance during the menstrual cycle and the influence of premenstrual symptoms. Thesis. 2004. http://publications.ki.se/xmlui/handle/10616/38957
Fridén C, Hirschberg AL, Saartok T. Muscle strength and endurance do not significantly vary across 3 phases of the menstrual cycle in moderately active premenopausal women. Clin J Sport Med. 2003 Jul;13(4):238-41.
Hirshoren N, Tzoran I, Makrienko I, Edoute Y, Plawner MM, Itskovitz-Eldor J, Jacob G. Menstrual cycle effects on the neurohumoral and autonomic nervous systems regulating the cardiovascular system. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2002 Apr;87(4):1569-75.
LaManca JJ, Haymes EM. Effects of iron repletion on VO2max, endurance, and blood lactate in women. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1993 Dec;25(12):1386-92.
Nelson LR, Bulun SE. Estrogen production and action. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2001 Sep;45(3 Suppl):S116-24.
Review: could Premenstrual syndrome cause Lack of strength, muscle weakness, weakness? eHealthMe. Web. 10 Jul 2014. http://www.ehealthme.com/cs/premenstrual+syndrome/lack+of+strength,+muscle+weakness,+weakness
Whipple B, Komisaruk BR. Elevation of pain threshold by vaginal stimulation in women. Pain. 1985 Apr;21(4):357-67.
Wojtys EM, Huston LJ, Lindenfeld TN, Hewett TE, V. H. Greenfield ML. Association Between the Menstrual Cycle and Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries in Female Athletes. Am J Sports Med. 1998 Sep-Oct;26(5):614-9.
Xanne A, Janse de Jonge K. Effects of the Menstrual Cycle on Exercise Performance. Sports Med. 2003; (33)11, 833-851.