There are a lot of misconceptions about menstrual health in athletes — especially strength athletes. In this video, Victoria Felkar takes on a number of common fallacies regarding women's health, particularly in regard to the menstrual cycle, and offers a more complete way to look at things. In the strength community and physical culture world, Felkar says the main issue is an extreme lack of knowledge on women's health issues. Because of this lack of real knowledge, more and more myths are constantly dispelled, especially through social media.

One of the biggest of these fallacies is centered on having or not having a period. There is an idea many women have that it's normal to not have a period as an athlete. Similarly, many women think that when they do have a period it's an indicator of being "healthy." Felkar says that neither of these things are necessarily true. It's all about the individual. Felkar walks through the science of the menstrual cycle to explain how each woman is individual and that there is no complete standard that everyone should fall into. Not being on an exact 28-day cycle is not an indicator of an issue. Citing one study in particular, Felkar explains the variance in cycle length between women.

With athletes, there is also a popular notion that lack of a period is an indicator that the female athlete is too lean. This is also incorrect. Energy balance is one component of amenorrhea, but it is not everything. There are other things to ask, like if you're on a drug that will inhibit menstruation. It sounds simple, but there are a lot of women who go on certain compounds and are then surprised that they don't have a period. Stress is another component; the body does not want to be in a state for reproduction when you aren't eating or sleeping and your bodily levels of stress are incredibly high. Felkar also draws attention to the fact that there is more to the cycle than having a flow. Specifically, she points out that for some women, when your androgen levels get very high, you may not have menses. However, you will experience every other aspect of a cycle. By logging a number of things, Felkar points out that you can distinguish and track this cycle. Things such as digestion, food, and body temperature can point to a trajectory that you can observe over time.

An additional myth Felkar wishes to distinguish is the need for post-competition blood work. She says to think of all the other questions you can ask and answer that blood work won't help you with. Are you having a period? Are you sleeping at night? How is your energy? How is your mood? These questions will tell you things that blood work will not. Blood work provides great data, but it doesn't always account for fluctuations in your hormones, and it isn't necessarily compared to your personal baseline. Felkar believes that someone who really wants to use blood work to their benefit must use it for several months in a row to create a baseline for future personal comparisons. Furthermore, Felkar says there is no one-size-fits-all rule for how certain drugs should affect a woman's period. There aren't drugs that should always stop you from getting your period, and there aren't drugs that you can be certain won't affect it.

WATCH: How to Be a Healthier Competitor

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