FTP #35: Kelly McNulty & Kirsty Elliott-Sale – The Female cyclist series: Menstrual cycle and endurance exercise performance

FTP #34: PART 2: Louise Burke, PhD – Ketogenic diets for cycling performance: the future of elite endurance sports?
September 14, 2020
FTP #36: Kirsty Elliott-Sale & Eimear Dolan – The Female cyclist series (Part 2): oral contraceptives and exercise performance
October 12, 2020

FTP #35: Kelly McNulty & Kirsty Elliott-Sale – The Female cyclist series: Menstrual cycle and endurance exercise performance


Episode resources:

Kelly McNulty, BSc, MSc.
(PhD Student)
Twitter Researchgate profile
“Period of the Period” – Twitter | Instagram

Kelly is a PhD researcher interested in the effects of the menstrual cycle on athletic performance, adaptation and recovery. Graduate from Northumbria University, with both a Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree in Sport and Exercise Science and a Master of Science (MSc) degree in Strength & Conditioning. Strength & Conditioning coach with a demonstrated history of working in the sports industry (particularly within golf).
Kelly is the first author this Systematic Reviews & Meta-Analysis published on Sports Medicine regarding the Menstrual cycle and exercise performance.

Kelly has recently launched a project and also a podcastPeriod of the Period – discussing the topics surrounding women’s physiology: menstrual cycles, hormonal contraceptives, pregnancy, menopause, sport & exercise.
(link for the podcast)

Kirsty Elliott-Sale, PhD.
Twitter Researchgate profile

Dr Elliott-Sale completed her undergraduate degree and PhD at Liverpool John Moores University. She worked as a Lecturer at Brunel University and the University of Brighton before undertaking a four-year Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship at Kings College London. Dr Elliott-Sale joined NTU in September 2009 as a Senior Lecturer on a part-time basis; since then she has been promoted to Associate Professor and now works full-time.
She is also the Head of the Musculoskeletal Physiology Research Group and the Postgraduate Research Tutor for the School of Science and Technology. She is also responsible for teaching on the undergraduate and postgraduate Sport Science degree programmes. Dr Elliott-Sale is the Module Leader for the “Sport Project and Dissertation” module. Dr Elliott-Sale teaches mainly in the areas of Exercise Physiology and particularly in Female Physiology, Performance, and Health.
She has more than 20 years of experience working predominately with females, particularly with elite female athletes and maternal populations (e.g., postpartum women). She has an international reputation in female endocrinology and musculoskeletal physiology, as well as expertise in exercise physiology with specific regards to the design and implementation of exercise-based interventions. She has extensive experience in running research projects in sporting, clinical and academic environments.

Since the completion of her PhD, which examined the effects of female reproductive hormones on muscle strength, her research has concentrated on various aspects of health and athletic performance in female populations.


On this episode:

  • Are we still afraid of talking about “periods”?
  • The Menstrual cycling phases 101
  • Hormone fluctuations and exercise performance
  • Challenges in performing this Meta-Analysis
  • In which phase(s) could performance be reduced?
  • How to interpret the results and apply it
  • Monitoring your athletes and creating a performance profile
  • Future directions to improve the quality of the research


Articles mentioned during the episode:

McNulty, K. L., Elliott-Sale, K. J., Dolan, E., Swinton, P. A., Ansdell, P., Goodall, S., … & Hicks, K. M. (2020). The effects of menstrual cycle phase on exercise performance in eumenorrheic women: a systematic review and meta-analysisSports Medicine, 1-15.

Elliott-Sale, K. J., McNulty, K. L., Ansdell, P., Goodall, S., Hicks, K. M., Thomas, K., … & Dolan, E. (2020). The Effects of Oral Contraceptives on Exercise Performance in Women: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Sports Medicine, 1-28.

Brown, N., Knight, C. J., & Forrest, L. J. Elite female athletes’ experiences and perceptions of the menstrual cycle on training and sport performance. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports.

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