Periods, sport and taboo
Talking about periods in sport is still pretty taboo. There are a lot of reasons for this and male coaches might also feel uncomfortable to raise the topic themselves. That’s understandable given the world we’ve all grown up in but we can change that. Men can learn more from womxn, bring womxn into sessions to talk about it and we can all be much more open at home, at school, at work and everywhere in between. It’s a thing that generally happens once a month (though when you’re starting to get periods it may happen more frequently or infrequently).
We need to acknowledge that nearly all girls and some non-binary kids have periods, can still play sports AND listen to our bodies. Commonly this happens from the age of 12 on (but it might happen earlier or much later) and it affects our ability to train and perform (our body is busy spending energy on other important matters, retaining water and is often in pain). We don’t change competitions but we can learn to ease up on certain activities for a few days. Or maybe you’re someone who feels a big rush of energy just before and that could be harnessed before a day or two focussing on something different. Each body is different and what we feel during our periods can (and often does) change over time too. We can teach tweens and teens (and ourselves) to listen to your body, try talking about it if you’re comfortable with someone you trust and be kind.
In the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Chinese swimmer Fu Yuanhui made headlines in an after race interview for saying she had her period. This is normal and we should be able to talk about it – no matter your gender.