Most people tend to get tired, bloated or depressed when they menstruate – but competitive athletes have to overcome these physical and mental barriers in order to go for the gold. For the launch of our new Leakproof Activewear leggings and shorts, we spoke with three competitive athletes about how getting a period affects their performance - both on and off the field.
Name: Kaila Jackson
Hometown: Detroit, Michigan
Sport: Track and field (100 and 200 meters)
School: University of Georgia
When I was 7 years old, I used to race the other kids in gym class. I was really fast, so my teacher told my parents I should run track. By the time I was 8 years old, I was really serious and competitive, participating in track and field meets. This past summer, I was ranked #1 in the whole world for the under-18 category and broke four records at the AAU Junior Olympics in Texas. Every time I get my period, it’s different. Sometimes it’s a light flow and sometimes it’s heavy–I never quite know what to expect. During practice, I’ll constantly have to keep running back and forth to the bathroom just to make sure I haven’t leaked. This can be challenging, especially when I’m weight training and miss reps, I have to make them up.
One time right before a meet, I felt my stomach hurting so I ran to the bathroom in the middle of a warmup and realized my period had started. It was a little nerve-wracking. I still performed well, but the entire time during the race I was thinking, “Oh my gosh, I just started my period!” I love Kt Leakproof Activewear because even if I don't have a tampon with me, I have the extra support I need to be able to finish practice. When I wear the shorts, I feel really secure about not bleeding through my clothes.
Name: Anna Foo
Hometown: Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey
School: New York University (recent graduate)
Cheer is unique compared to other sports because there’s a lot of physical contact. Concussions are prominent in the cheer world, there’s broken noses, and lots of bruises depending on how you fall. It’s the same as other other sports in the sense that when you get your period, you kind of have to get over it and take Tylenol to suppress the pain, but it’s different because it can hurt a lot more.
A few years ago, I saw a viral video of a flyer (cheerleader at the top of the pyramid) getting her period while she was in the air. I felt so bad for her, everyone in the video is freaking out. In cheerleading you’re moving around a lot, jumping, flipping, so there’s a huge fear of leaks. I used to have a really heavy period — I would have to change my tampon every two hours — until I started taking hormonal birth control. Now I’m grateful my flow has significantly lessened. I don’t really wear pads, I just kind of hope for the best. Kt Leakproof leggings makes me feel a lot safer. The compression aspect actually helps out with cramps and I feel much more comfortable knowing I have an extra layer of protection when I’m playing sports.
Name: Kate Walsh
Hometown: San Francisco, California
Sport: Track and field (100 and 200 meters, long jump)
School: New York University
The whole point of track and field is to be light on your feet and I’m on my period, it's like I’m being brought down. I feel so heavy. The second day of my period is probably the heaviest for me. I’m more emotional, and easily upset. One time I was making sandwiches and made an extra one for my dad and I went into my room and started bawling after he told me he wasn’t hungry. Small stuff like that will completely derail my day.
Getting my period definitely affects my athletic performance because I have the mentality that I’m not going to do as well. I’m afraid of leaks all the time. Sometimes I wear a tampon and a pad just so I know there’s no way I’m going to bleed through. At practice I’ll be stretching or doing warmups and feel so insecure about how it looks and wonder if anyone can see that I’m wearing a pad. I’ve had some teammates who have bled through their leggings at practice and didn’t bring a change of clothes who have had to skip workouts because of it.
The Kt Leakproof Active shorts feel really secure and tight on. When I first saw them, I wasn’t sure if they were going to fit because they’re so small, but they stretch out a lot. Most of the stuff we have to wear to practice is tiny and the last thing you want to wear on your period. These shorts are a nice way to feel a little less uncomfortable when I’m on my period. I definitely won’t have to double up on protection anymore.