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Natural Awakenings South Jersey

Navigating the Influence of Teen Hormones on Sports

by Dr. Kathleen Baumgardner, DC

As young women enter their teenage years, they enter a phase of life that includes many hormonal changes, as well as the opportunity to pursue a variety of athletic interests. Understanding the relationship between female teen hormones and sports becomes important for both athletes and those who support them.

From menstrual cycles to performance fluctuations, the impact of hormones on the female athlete’s body can be impactful and multifaceted. Puberty initiates a cascade of hormonal shifts in females, primarily driven by estrogen and progesterone. These hormones influence various physiological processes, including muscle development, metabolism and mood regulation. However, their fluctuating levels throughout the menstrual cycle can cause challenges for female athletes, affecting performance and recovery.

The menstrual cycle typically spans approximately 28 days, divided into follicular and luteal phases, with ovulation being the midpoint between the two. During the follicular phase or beginning of the month, hormone levels are low and there appears to be an increase in the ability for muscle repair and growth, as well as better energy availability. This is the time to participate in intense exercise like high intensity interval training (HIIT), plyometrics, weightlifting and other rigorous exercise, providing adequate rest between workouts. This phase often coincides with peak performance, with increased strength and endurance. Female athletes may experience better motivation and focus, contributing to better training results. Conversely, during the luteal phase, occurring after ovulation, a surge in progesterone levels occurs with sustained estrogen production. These hormonal changes can lead to fluid retention, bloating, mood fluctuations and headaches which potentially can impact athletic performance. Increased core body temperature during this phase may elevate perceived exertion during workouts with symptoms such as dizziness and overexertion. Hot exercise environments should be avoided, and moderate intensity, gentle movement is most beneficial, including easy cardio, yoga, Pilates, walks, bike rides and hikes.

One of the most notable effects of female teen hormones on sports performance is their influence on injury risk. Research suggests that fluctuating hormone levels, particularly estrogen, can affect ligament laxity and neuromuscular control, which may set young female athletes up for musculoskeletal injuries, such as ACL tears. It is important for the athlete, parents, coaches and trainers to be aware of these risks. This allows them to include injury prevention strategies, including strength training and neuromuscular conditioning, to reduce potential injuries.

Hormonal changes can also affect psychological well-being, affecting the athlete’s emotional health. Hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle may intensify mood swings, anxiety or depression, potentially impacting motivation and confidence levels. Educating young female athletes about these hormonal changes and their psychological effects will help to increase their self-awareness, empowering them to navigate challenges with greater adaptability.

Nutritional considerations play a powerful role in controlling the impact of hormones on sports performance. Adequate intake of proteins, carbohydrates and fats along with micronutrients, such as B-complex, iron, calcium and magnesium, supports hormonal balance and musculoskeletal health. Additionally, educating the athletes about proper meal timing, proper hydration and electrolyte balance timed with the menstrual cycle can support optimum energy levels and recovery, enhancing overall athletic performance.

Encouraging female teen athletes to track their menstrual cycles and understand their body’s specific responses to hormonal changes teaches them to listen to their body’s needs. By embracing a holistic approach that integrates physiological, psychological and nutritional factors, coaches, parents and healthcare professionals can support young women in maximizing their athletic potential while promoting long-term health and well-being. The intersection of female teen hormones and sports is complex and distinct, with profound implications for athletic performance and overall well-being. By providing a comprehensive understanding of hormonal influences and implementing specific strategies to support female athletes, we can cultivate a generation of resilient, empowered young women who excel both on and off the field.

Dr. Kathleen Baumgardner, DC, of Health Goals Chiropractic and Wellness Center, located at 230 N. Maple Ave., Ste. G2, in Marlton. For more information or to make an appointment, call 856-983-5422 or visit

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