WHOOP is rolling out Menstrual Cycle Coaching to give you insights into how the phases of your menstrual cycle affect your sleep and strain from one day to the next.
The menstrual cycle causes dramatic hormonal shifts throughout the month, producing different physiological responses. In some phases you may be more able to take on strain, can work out harder and experience higher gains, while in other phases you may need more sleep. By tracking menstruation in the WHOOP Journal, the Strain Coach and Sleep Coach can calibrate to each phase of your cycle and provide recommendations based on your phase.
Women have been historically underrepresented in sports science and research, which is why WHOOP studied the relationship between the menstrual cycle, hormonal birth control, and recovery in partnership with female physiology and nutrition expert Dr. Stacy Sims. The study, published in the British Medical Journal, uncovered key differences between natural menstrual cycles and hormonal birth controlled menstrual cycles.
One of the study’s findings is that our ability to recover changes throughout the natural menstrual cycle differently than when hormonal birth control is used. The effect of hormonal birth control on recovery further varied depending on whether or not the birth control contains estrogen.
This study inspired WHOOP to ask how we could help women understand how to train using their WHOOP data. Menstrual Cycle Coaching is the result.
People who do not use hormonal birth control can benefit from using the Menstrual Cycle Coaching on WHOOP. Hormonal birth control methods, including pills, hormonal intrauterine devices (IUDs), rings, and patches change the hormonal fluctuations throughout a normal menstrual cycle. If you do use a form of hormonal birth control the existing Strain and Sleep Coach algorithms are accurate for you.
Not everyone’s cycle is exactly 28 days. Menstrual Cycle Coaching provides unique benefits to members who menstruate, including:
Menstrual Cycle Coaching recommends maximizing training during your period based on how hormone levels change throughout the month. During the early follicular phase (your period), estrogen and progesterone are at their lowest levels. This allows you to build more muscle and make bigger gains than in other phases. On the other hand, as your body prepares for menstruation in the late luteal phase (just before your period) your body is less able to take on additional strain and it may be a good time for an active recovery day.
Whatever exercise you do, you’ll see better gains during your period than in any other phase. But everyone is different and if you have low energy or have poor recoveries during your period, you may choose not to work out harder during your period. Experiment with Menstrual Cycle Coaching while working out and see how your recoveries improve.
Your cycle affects all of your systems, including your circadian rhythm. In the week before your period you’re more likely to experience lower quality sleep and more time spent awake than the rest of your cycle. Meaning you may want to plan for more time in bed during your premenstrual week to offset this.
WHOOP offers a number of ways to help members track their reproductive health. The Journal provides toggles for ovulation, trying to conceive, pregnancy, perimenopause, and postmenopause. You can also track premenstrual symptoms including bloating and menstrual cramping in the Journal.
If you’re pregnant you can join a Community team chat based on your due date, where you can share experiences and find support from other pregnant members.
WHOOP continues developing features to help women throughout all life stages including menstruation, pregnancy, post-partum, menopause and more. Menstrual Cycle Coaching is a continuation of the investments WHOOP is making in women’s performance science.