Does Working Out Affect Your Menstrual Cycle?

If you’re wondering whether working out affects your menstrual cycle, you’re not alone. Many women are curious about how exercise might affect their periods, and for good reason.


Throughout female adulthood, menstruation is an often unpleasant and uncomfortable part of life. But does exercise affect the menstrual cycle and the hormones associated with it? Can hitting the gym, or just being active in your daily life, make your cycle more regular? Understanding how exercise interacts with your menstrual cycle can give you more insight into what’s happening every month and help you understand why you’re feeling a certain way.

The effects of physical activity during menstruation differs from woman to woman. Different body types and lifestyles will create a unique experience for each individual, but overall there are some general guidelines that can give you an idea of how working out can affect your period. This guide will talk through key concepts related to menstrual cycle regulation and exercise, such as luteal phase dysfunction, hyperandrogenism, amenorrhea (lack of menstruation) in athletes, and energy balance. By understanding these topics more fully through research-backed evidence we can get a better sense of how our lifestyle habits—including our exercise regimes—may affect our menstrual cycles.

How Exercise Affects Your Menstrual Cycle

Exercising regularly can provide numerous benefits for women, including improved cardiovascular health and reduced stress. However, did you know that exercise can greatly affect the regularity of your menstrual cycle? Studies show that physical activity can cause changes in hormone regulation resulting in an increased or decreased frequency of periods. Let’s dive into the details to explore how exercise impacts your menstrual cycle.

Effects of Moderate Exercise

Regular, moderate exercise is beneficial for most women in many ways and can often help reduce PMS and cramping during your period. Intense exercise, however, can interfere with hormones released during your menstrual cycle and influence the regularity of your periods. According to research published in the National Library of Medicine, moderating the level and duration of your workouts may be beneficial in maintaining regular cycles.

Moderate exercise is generally considered to be mid-level aerobic activity that increases your heart rate to an intensity between 40-70% of your maximum heart rate (MHR). Moderate activities might include walking or jogging at a brisk pace, swimming laps, moderate biking or an aerobics class. These activities should last no longer than 30 minutes three times per week to avoid overtraining which can disrupt proper hormonal release necessary for menstruation.

When it comes to exercise and its effects on the menstrual cycle, it’s important to listen to your body’s needs. Any new physical activity program should begin with a conversation with your doctor who may offer further guidance on how best to begin exercising without disrupting hormones or impacting periods neagtively.

Effects of Intense Exercise

Participating in intense physical activity, such as marathon running or other activities that require prolonged periods of sustained effort, can have an effect on a woman’s natural menstrual cycle. Most fitness professionals recommend that women should not engage in intense physical activity during the menstrual phase of their menstrual cycle.

When a woman engages in vigorous and extended physical activity, her body releases hormones known as catecholamines (adrenaline and noradrenaline). These hormones are known to be the primary hormone responsible for triggering metabolic adaptations associated with exercise. However, these hormones also decrease levels of another hormone called progesterone, which is essential for maintaining normal reproductive function.

As exercise intensity increases, so too does the release of these catecholamines. When elevated levels are released over a long period of time this can lead to decreased levels of estrogen and progesterone which results in disruptions to the regular menstrual cycle or even its disappearance completely (known as amenorrhea). This type of exercise-induced amenorrhea occurs most commonly among female athletes who engage in high-intensity endurance sports such as distance running or cycling. It is most common among these athletes because they can sustain such intense levels for longer than other types of more moderate activities.

In conclusion, engaging in high-intensity exercise over a long period of time can cause significant hormonal changes leading to disruption or even cessation of your normal menstrual cycle. It is generally recommended that women avoid engaging in extended periods of intense physical activity during the menstrual phase to minimize any potential disruption to their hormone balance due to an increase in catecholamine production from the body’s stress response.

Benefits of Exercise on Menstrual Cycle

Exercise can have major benefits on a woman’s menstrual cycle. Both physical and psychological benefits can be achieved by regular exercise. It can help regulate hormonal balance, alleviate some menstrual symptoms, reduce stress, and increase physical strength. Exercise can also aid in improving the quality of sleep which is key to overall health. Let’s take a look at how exactly exercise affects a woman’s menstrual cycle.

Improved Ovarian Function

Exercise not only helps to control weight gain, improve cardiovascular health and overall mental wellbeing, but it can also have an impact on the menstrual cycle. Improved physical activity can have a positive effect on ovarian function, which may affect the timing of a woman’s menses. Regular exercise can help to regularize ovulation and the timing of the menstrual cycle in general. Researchers believe that this is due to increased hormonal balance – improved hormones like estrogen, LH, FSH and prolactin which are important in ovulation and the production of progesterone.

Research has also shown that endurance athletes may benefit from improved ovarian function due to exercise as well as longer luteal phases (the second half of the menstrual cycle). Improved ovarian function from exercise can influence several aspects of the menstrual cycle such as altered testosterone levels, increased rates of ovulation or decreased levels of circulating estrogen for those who participate in activities such as cycling or running. Improved rates at which follicles mature also increases chances for conception. Additionally, gains in posture and strength often accompany appropriate training schedulesthat help prepare women to more easily carry healthy pregnancies during their reproductive years should they choose so.

Reduced Menstrual Pain

Exercising can have a positive effect on the symptoms of menstrual pain. Regular exercise during your period has been linked to improved blood circulation, increased endorphins, and reduced stress and anxiety which can result in reduced menstrual pain. Exercise-induced endorphins are chemicals produced by the body’s nervous system which work as natural painkillers. Additionally, exercise helps to relieve tension in the muscles of your lower abdomen and pelvic area. To maximize relief from menstrual cramps, focus on low-impact activities such as cycling or swimming, as this type of exercise will not increase abdominal pressure due to hard contractions.

When it comes to exercises that may reduce your menstrual pain, yoga is a great option. The combination of stretching and strengthening exercises helps to relax muscles while stimulating the abdominal muscles to promote healthy digestive functions – all while calming your mind and reducing anxiety. Yoga also helps you release pent-up emotions during this time that can affect your hormones and lead to painful menstrual cycles. Be sure to check out our selection of yoga poses specifically designed for relieving menstrual cramps here!

Risks of Exercising Too Much

Exercising regularly is an important part of staying healthy and in shape, but it’s important to know that over-exercising can have negative effects on your body, particularly when it comes to your menstrual cycle. Too much exercise can disrupt your hormones and throw off your cycle, leading to painful and irregular periods. In this section, we’ll take a look at the risks associated with exercising too much, and how it can affect your menstrual cycle.


Amenorrhea is a common cause for concern in the athletic population, especially when the lack of menstruation is caused by high levels of physical activity and exercise. Women who eat too little or undergo intense exercise can develop amenorrhea, which often coincides with low estrogen levels. This condition can increase the risk for reproductive system issues like poor bone health, infertility and anovulatory cycles. In some cases, amenorrhea has been linked to stress in reduced immune functioning. It is important that athletes take extra care to ensure they are engaging in appropriate levels of physical activity while maintaining adequate nutrition levels to avoid amenorrhea and other health risks associated with overtraining.

Low Body Fat

Low body fat can disrupt hormone production, a phenomenon known as relative energy deficiency in sport (RED-S). If a woman consistently has low body fat, she may suffer from amenorrhea, or the complete absence of her menstrual cycle. This condition can occur due to stressors such as overexercising and stress-related weight loss. Even with regular periods, extreme physical activity can have negative impacts on menstrual health.

For starters, exercising too often and too intensely can reduce body fat to the point where hormones needed for ovulation either stop being produced or are released in diminished quantities. These hormones are essential for ovulation; without them, fertilization of an egg cannot occur and pregnancy is impossible.

In addition to infertility, women who exercise too much may experience issues such as irregular cycles and reduced levels of estrogen. This imbalance is linked to an increase in osteoporosis risk and issues related to bone density and bone health. Estrogen is also important for maintaining the endometrium — the protective lining that covers the walls of a woman’s uterus — so an inadequate supply of it could cause insufficient uterine protection that could increase risk of endometriosis or other infections affecting fertility or general health. Finally, exercising too much can also lead to fatigue or depression that negatively impacts overall energy levels or moods. As a result, women should be aware of how their exercise regimen impacts their menstrual cycle; if it seems like they are pushing themselves too hard they should scale back and consider alternative ways to stay fit while still protecting their bodies from potential harm.

Tips for Exercising During Your Menstrual Cycle

Exercise can play a vital role in improving your overall health and well-being. Even during your menstrual cycle, it is important to continue to stay fit and active. However, working out during your menstrual cycle can be uncomfortable and even dangerous if done incorrectly. Here are some tips to help you safely exercise during your period.

Listen to Your Body

Listening to your body can be critical for understanding the impact of exercise during your menstrual cycle. Pay attention to the way you are feeling, both physically and emotionally, before and after a workout. If you find yourself feeling overly fatigued or out of energy, take a rest day and focus on low-impact activities like walking or gentle stretching. Knowing your limits and modifying intensity as needed is important for helping to prevent fatigue and overtraining, which can worsen symptoms such as cramping. When pushing yourself to return quickly to high-intensity workouts, you are more prone to injury so after an illness or set back it’s important to listen closely to your body— take it slow and add intensity when needed!

Adjust Your Exercise Intensity

Exercising during your menstrual cycle can be helpful for relieving symptoms like cramping and fatigue. For best results, it’s important to adjust the intensity of your workouts depending on when you are in your cycle.

During the first two months of your cycle (the follicular and ovulatory phases), exercise intensity can remain steady. Your energy levels should be consistently high, allowing you to perform intense exercises without feeling overly drained afterward. As you progress into the luteal phase (typically the last two weeks of your cycle) you may want to reduce the intensity of your workouts to better accommodate any changes in hormone levels such as body temperature. Low-intensity exercises like walking or stretching can help offset any dips in energy that may occur due to fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone during this time.

It’s also important to listen to your body as it responds differently under varying hormone influences throughout each month – if you feel tired or experience heavy bleeding, take a break from exercise and try to get some rest; however if appetite and mood improve when exercising then it should be continued but at an appropriate intensity level.

Take Breaks When Necessary

While it may be tempting to push yourself during your workout, it is important to listen to your body and take breaks when necessary. During your menstrual cycle, you may experience fatigue, bloating or other physical symptoms that can cause you discomfort while working out. Taking a break can help reduce overall distress and let your body rest and recover. You might consider increasing the amount of rest periods between sets or opting for lighter “active” rest days instead of full exercises sessions. Additionally, take a few days off each month if you are feeling particularly drained – it can go a long way in helping maintain balance in your fitness routine and prevent injury.


In conclusion, exercising does have an effect on the menstrual cycle. The best way to ensure that your period is regular and healthy is to maintain a balanced and consistent physical activity program required by your body. During each phase of the cycle, different types of exercise can be beneficial in terms of your energy levels, hormones and menstrual cycle. It’s important to listen to your body when deciding what exercises are best for you during each phase. If you experience any sensitivity or changes in your menstrual cycle following an increase in exercise, modify or reduce your program according to how you feel. It’s also important to be aware of the restrictions associated with certain types of exercise during particularly heavy flow days as well as immediately before and after menstruation. Keeping these factors in mind will help ensure that you maintain a healthy balance between working out and responding appropriately to changes in your body’s natural rhythms.

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