May 29, 2023

HER SIDE OF THE COURT | Let’s talk about it: Filipina athletes open up about menstrual cycles in sports

HER SIDE OF THE COURT | Let’s talk about it: Filipina athletes open up about menstrual cycles in sports
Art by One Sports

In the USA’s National Women’s Soccer League, the Orlando Pride are replacing white shorts with black ones to help players feel more comfortable while playing on their period. This is part of a wider push to understand women’s needs and empower women in sport.

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The USWNT has previously shared that they track their athletes’ menstrual cycles and design individualized training and nutrition with this in mind. More sports brands are releasing period-proof leggings and performance wear. This practice is still new and innovative; certainly, the Orlando Pride are the first NWSL team to adopt such a change.

But in years to come, we may be seeing more changes like this in women’s sports—internationally and locally. For some, talking about periods feels awkward, but it shouldn’t be: it’s a normal part of human life that impacts 50% of our population! Now, more and more Pinay athletes are lifting the veil from this topic and raising awareness for how periods affect women in sports. Here are some anecdotes from top Filipina athletes:

Nesthy Petecio, 2020 Tokyo Olympics Silver Medalist

“Ang hirap kapag dinatnan na po 'yung mga babae, lalo na pag nasa sa combat sports talaga,” shared Petecio on the Go Hard Girls podcast. While it took a while for her male coaches to understand what she and her fellow female boxers were going through, Petecio is glad that they have adjusted.

“Kumbaga 'di nila kami pinipilit pag nagsasabi kami na ‘Coach ah, may dalaw po kami.’ Tas sabi ni coach, ‘O sige, ah jogging ka lang or papawis ka lang’ or ganun lang. Kung magi-sparring naman kami sasabihin nila 'yung mga ka-sparring namin, lalo na lalaki, na wag muna sa tiyan, sa mukha na lang. So sila po nag-aadjust. 'Yun po 'yung pinakamaganda sa mga coaches po namin.”

Monique Del Carmen, Gilas Pilipinas athlete & SEA Games Gold Medalist

“Kapag nagwe-weights ka, kinabukasan sobrang sakit dahil meron ka. Magkakapasa ka pa minsan. 'Yung iba pasain kasi meron,” she shared on Go Hard Girls. “Kapag may game, wala kang magagawa you need to play. For example, 'yung isang senior namin 'di niya alam magkakaroon siya that day. During the game pa!”

Hidilyn Diaz, first Olympic gold medalist from the Philippines

“Bilang isang babae, isang athleta, ang dami din naming kailangan. Every month, may dalaw ‘di ba?” Diaz also shared on the podcast. This is part of why she hopes for more female representation among coaches and sports officials in order to develop programs tailored for women. “Kailangan may participation ng kababaihan, sa sports officials, sa technical officials, sa coaches. Kasi paano makakaintindi ang coaches sa isang babae kung walang magsasabi or magfi-feedback na babae?”

If you’re a female athlete reading this, how has your period affected your training and performance? And if you’re a guy, how does this knowledge change your understanding of what female athletes go through?