The popular wearable Whoop has just announced a new in-app feature for its wristbands – Menstrual Cycle Coaching, which offers suggestions on how you might alter your training, sleep, and recovery throughout different phases of your menstrual cycle.
In the buildup to the app, Whoop partnered with New Zealand’s Auckland University of Technology researchers on a study published in the British Medical Journal that examined female menstrual cycles and athletic recovery, and then funneled their findings into the app’s development. The goal of the app is to provide personalized coaching based on your own metrics and physiological needs. Of course, professional athletes have the most to gain using the app, but any fitness fan can see benefits, with the caveat being that the app is designed for those not on hormonal birth control, which can cause unpredictable hormonal fluctuations.
While I’ve yet to try the new feature, some of the recommendations are honestly surprising, such as how during your follicular phase (your menstrual period), the boost in testosterone allows you to build more muscle and recover better, meaning you can actually push your workouts a little harder on those days.
(This totally goes against the grain of most advice to rest and drink tea when on your period – yet as a lifelong runner, this explains why I’m able to go farther and faster on these days.)
On the flip side, as your body prepares for menstruation in the late luteal phase, or right before your period, Whoops says that this is typically prime time for a recovery day. Of course, everyone is different, so Whoop suggests “experimenting” with the app to make it just right for you.
Apparently, Whoop is breaking some new ground in sport science focused on female physiology – an area that is heavily underrepresented, with one estimate suggesting women account for only 3% of subjects in sport research. Whoop is currently undergoing a host of female-focused studies based on nutrition, hormones, and the like, hopefully putting all of those millions of data points to good use (with participant consent, of course).
Like Whoop, Oura’s latest generation wearable also tracks your menstrual cycles and ovulation in ways that are light years beyond what period tracking apps can do, making these game-changing ways to track your fertility. (Although, I couldn’t get through a week wearing the Oura, just because of the chunky ring circumference… hopefully future versions will be more female-finger-friendly.)
Of course tracking your cycles isn’t rocket science, but because both Oura and Whoop are worn constantly, their sensors can easily measure your basal body temperature (or BBT), which rises and falls in predictable patterns throughout the month, with a rise in temperature right during ovulation and a drop in temperature right before your period. Time will tell how these functionalities develop for female users, but it’s nice to see menstrual cycles becoming a meaningful part of the conversation.
Connect the Watts has extensive coverage on the latest Whoop here. Or watch here: