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Cycling time trial performance during different phases of the menstrual cycle

Abstract

Submaximal exercise performance has not previously been assessed in the late follicular phase of the menstrual cycle, which is associated with a pre-ovulatory surge in oestrogen. Therefore, we compared cycling time trial performance during the early follicular (EF), late follicular (LF) and mid-luteal (ML) phase of the menstrual cycle in trained and untrained eumenorrhoeic women who cycled 30 and 15 km, respectively, in a non-fasted state. The women completed the three cycling time trials on a conventional racing bicycle mounted on an air-braked ergometer. We required resting oestrogen to increase by at least twofold above EF phase values in both the LF and ML phases and this resulted in a number of exclusions reducing the sample size of each group. No significant difference was noted in the finishing time between the different menstrual phases in trained (n=5) or untrained (n=8) group, albeit limited by sample size. However, analysis of the combined trained and untrained group data (n=13) revealed a trend for a faster finishing time (P=0.027) in the LF phase compared to the EF phase as 73% of the subjects showed improvements with an average of 5.2±2.9% (or 2.1±1.1 min) in the LF phase (for α=0.05 requires P<0.017). Combined group analysis yielded no difference between performance in the EF and ML phase or between the LF and ML phase. Thus, further research is encouraged to confirm the tendency for a faster time trial in the LF phase, which coincides with the pre-ovulatory surge in oestrogen.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to thank Sr. F. Koetle for her medical assistance. This study was funded by the Medical Research Council of South Africa and the National Research Foundation.

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Correspondence to Tanja Oosthuyse.

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Oosthuyse, T., Bosch, A.N. & Jackson, S. Cycling time trial performance during different phases of the menstrual cycle. Eur J Appl Physiol 94, 268–276 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-005-1324-5

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Keywords

  • Ovarian hormones
  • Eumenorrhoeic women
  • Endurance performance