We chat to Sophie Wachter professional Karate athlete who competes for the German National Team, to find out how her period affects her performance.
Do you find that your menstrual cycle can disrupt your training schedule?
Absolutely. Especially due to my endometriosis disease, it is not possible for me to train very intensively, especially shortly before my period and in the first two days. Then I try to do more regenerative units or even take a day off.
Does your period affect how you perform in competitions?
Unfortunately yes. I often had to fight with strong cramps and back pain as well as "lead legs". Of course, you don't feel fresh on a competition day. However, the tension and adrenaline always helped me to halfway block out the problems, at least for 2-3 hours.
Do you speak about menstruation in sports with fellow peers?
I have been talking to my female team mates for years. With my coaches, unfortunately, I have only started to talk about it proactively in the last 3-4 years, because before that I was also always a bit ashamed. However, I already have the feeling that especially the new generation of coaches is much more open about it and also take it into account in the training plans.
Did you used to use disposables while training/competing? If yes, did they feel uncomfortable? Why did you stop using them?
Yes, I used tampons and additionally pads. It's never nice to have a foreign object inside your body during your period at a competition. Sometimes it pinches, then something slips and it has to be changed again at an absolutely inappropriate moment (just before the start, for example). Depending on the country you are in, the hygiene standard is unfortunately not such that you can or want to change your tampons. Or you don't even have the possibility because there are no restrooms nearby.
How long have you worn period underwear and why did you try them?
I have been using period underwear for about three quarters of a year. Especially the sustainability character encouraged me to test them and I myself was totally surprised at the beginning how well it all works out and that you can really trust the panties. Before a competition, though, you should definitely have tested them so you are really reassured about their safety.
What would you want to say to younger athletes about periods and leaks in sport?
That it's completely normal and nothing to be ashamed of! In general, you should also talk openly about your period with your coaches, especially if you have problems with it. If they don't know about it, they can't adjust the training. We have great period underwear with Modibodi that can make us feel safe in training and so we should use it and tell our friends about it
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