PhD project: Menstrual cycle, physical fitness, training, and recovery in endurance trained females

Effect Of Menstrual Cycle Phase On Physical Fitness, Acute Training Responses, And Recovery Following Exercise in Endurance Trained Females

Female athletes are dramatically underrepresented in sport and exercise research, meaning their training programs are largely based on male dominated research outcomes. This is a practice that overlooks the complex uniqueness of a female athlete, and fails to consider the hormonal fluctuations associated with the menstrual cycle (MC). The current understanding of if/how the menstrual cycle influences exercise physiology and performance is unclear, and outcomes are often clouded by a high proportion of publications with low-quality study designs (i.e. lack of menstrual cycle phase verification).

The aim of this PhD project is to utilize gold-standard methodologies to examine the influence of three hormonally distinct menstrual cycle phases (early follicular, ovulatory, and mid luteal) on different aspects of endurance performance and recovery in endurance trained females.

Key Objectives:

1. Explore the influence of menstrual cycle phase on endurance performance determining variables.
2. Investigate the acute physiological response to standardized endurance sessions (high intensity intervals and low intensity training sessions) during three distinct phases of the MC.
3. Examine the impact of menstrual cycle phase on subjective recovery and objectively measured sleep following standardized exercise sessions.

Data Collection

Data collection for this project was carried out in two phases between 2021-2023 across five nationwide centers; UiT (Tromsø), NTNU (Trondheim), NIH (Oslo), Høyskolen Kristiania (Oslo) and Nord University (Meråker). Gold-standard methodology was employed for the assessment and verification of menstrual cycle phase, including calendar-based counting, at home urinary ovulation testing and serum hormone analysis of ovarian hormones on each test day. Over 100 endurance trained women participated in these data collections. Data collection was completed in June 2023, and analysis is underway.

PhD Candidate: Madison Y. Taylor


Madison Taylor (Principal investigator)
John Owen Osborne
Tina Pettersen Engseth
Hanne Cesilie Staff
Øyvind Bucher Sandbakk
Bente Morseth

Financial/grant information:

Tromsø Research Foundation
UiT Norges arktiske universitet