Here I go again running my mouth.
I can’t stop talking period.
I hope ya’ll got a chance to check out, No Flo, No Go (NFNG). If you didn’t, HERE. In it, you’ll learn how to help women accept their superpowers to thrive in life and sport. It’s a short and sweet read that sets the stage for what I’m about to discuss.
In NFNG, I introduced the 8 “bloody” brilliant questions that you need to ask female athletes. Ready to get down and dirty?
In this post, we’ll delve into why they’re important, and why not asking them will give you a myopic lens into vagina matters.
Rather than drown you in medical facts, I thought I’d start with an example conversation. This (hypothetically) took place between a coach and 20 y/o collegiate soccer player (let’s call her…Ashley ;)). As you read this, I want you to think about what went wrong…
C: Hey Ash, how are things going?
A: Hey Coach! Things are good. I aced my anatomy test today.
C: That’s awesome, I’m proud of you. How do you feel like things are going at practice?
A: I’m frustrated. My knee is still a mess, I feel like I’m letting everyone down. I’m slow, my ball skills are off… I just don’t know anymore.
C: Well, I want you to know I know how hard you work. You bust your ass every practice.
A: Thanks, coach. I wish I felt that way.
C: Ash, I want to ask you some questions. I don’t want you to feel uncomfortable, but they may help us out a little bit getting you back from your injuries. Sound good?
A: Sure, coach…
C: Ash, do you remember how old you were when you had your first period?
A: I was in sixth grade, so about 12. Coach, why are you asking this?
C: Just give me a chance here, okay? Believe it or not, it’s good it came that early. After 15, it can be a problem.
A: Oh wow, really? I didn’t know that.
C: Yup! Do you have regular periods?
A: Eh, not really. I haven’t had one recently and I think the last one I had was three or four months ago.
C: Gotcha. Do you remember exactly when?
A: Not really, this has happened before and my mom used to say it’s because I’m an athlete playing sports. She didn’t seem too worried.
C: Have you ever seen a doctor because of it?
A: Not that I can remember. It didn’t seem like a big deal! Some of my friends also tell me the same thing has happened to them.
C: I hear ya! I can’t tell you what it’s like but it must be nice to not have to deal with your period. Did you know it’s actually not okay to miss periods?
A: You’ve got that right. It’s great to not have one and I had no idea that it’s not okay.
C: Not many people do! But, before we keep chatting about periods, have you ever had a stress fracture?
A: I sure have… I’ve had two or three in my feet and one in my ankle. The last one I had was my senior year of high school.
C: Ah, well luckily none recently! Do you feel tired a lot during the day? Do you need to take naps or do you use a lot of caffeine?
A: Ah, yeah luckily no stress fractures. But these knee injuries, sprained ankles and hamstring strains are getting to me. Coach, I live off of coffee. I don’t nap because I think it is weird to sleep during the day.. but I probably could if that wasn’t the case. I always feel stressed and tired.
C: Alright, how about eating? What do your eating habits look like?
A: Coach, who has the time to eat? I have some sort of fruit in the morning, coffee, water, grapefruit, and some Ramen or instant stuffing from time to time. I don’t have a big meal plan at the dining hall. I eat out every so often. I’m just not hungry.
C: Grapefruit? That’s something I don’t hear so often. Have you ever talked to someone about your eating?
A: No, I never had to. Truthfully, I don’t like the food in the dining hall and I don’t have the means to cook for myself.
C: Eh, I remember the dining hall days. I hear ya on the food not being so great. Let’s chat a bit more about all of this…. I think I may have some things that can help.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is MY story. These are MY answers. What’s sad is that no one actually took the time to ask me these questions.
My collegiate soccer career was injury plagued and less than stellar. It’s not easy to say but, I SUCKED. My psychological status was off, my health was poor, my diet was poor, and…there was “no flo”.
If someone had just taken the time to ask me these bloody simple questions… things would have been different. My coaches would’ve learned that I wasn’t fueling enough and that I had an energy deficit. They would have known that I wasn’t having my period which is detrimental to a female’s long-term reproductive health, ability to maintain & grow bone, and build healthy muscle. It would’ve all made sense as to why I was under-performing and not healing.
So if you take anything away from this post… get comfortable being uncomfortable. Realize that periods are not only normal, but integral to a woman’s health. It’s time we grow up and start talking about them.
If you’re a female athlete or coach female athletes, I’d love to hear from you and learn about the challenges or struggles you’ve faced or are facing. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any additional questions.
Yours in Health,