Dance students, how often do you talk about your period with your teacher? with your friends? with your family, boyfriend/girlfriend?
Teachers, how often have you made the time to inform and educate the students about the menstrual cycle, to both boys and girls?
Let’s start this conversation because it’s such an important matter to discuss.
Menstruation is often treated like an annoyance (and I do agree that it’s not the best thing to have when you have when your class uniform is a tight leotard) but it’s a vital sign for your body’s level of nourishment.
Why is period important for dancers?
Well, for a few reasons.
- Without menstruation you won’t be able to achieve your full growth. Both physically (height and weight) and reproductively (your ability to have a baby in the future). Remember this dancers, that you have a life after your dancing career too.
- If a period stops (for more than three consecutive months) then your bone density will become compromised. This means higher risk of fractures (including repetitive stress fractures).
- Knowing your period pattern (cycle) can maximise your strength training. After the few days of your period (bleeding) you enter the Ovulation Phase. This is when your oestrogen hormone level rises, giving you better ability to train and gain power.
In general, menstruation will commence somewhere between the age of 10-15.
Pretty much the age at which your mum got her first period is the best indication of when yours will commence.
What should I do if my period is not normal?
- If you haven’t got your period after the age of 15-16, then it’s best to see your doctor to run a few tests. It’s relatively more common in dancers than non-dancers to have a late start of menses because your physical activity level is so high. You also want to rule out any other defects (very unlikely in the first place, but it’s always good to confirm!)
- If your period has stopped at some stage, then speak to your doctor or a dietitian. In most cases it’s because your body isn’t getting enough energy and nutrients to support your level of dancing, which is by the way quite vigorous. The best way to let the period resume is to nourish your body with adequate foods and reduce some stressors.
When you enter puberty and your period starts, your body will go through a lot of changes.
It will become rounder.
You will have bigger breasts and hips.
This is because your body is entering adulthood and preparing you for the future to have a baby.
The changes are uncomfortable, especially when you’re in a leotard all day.
But these changes are necessary.
You shouldn’t stay in your childhood body shape and size forever because this means you are compromising your ability to grow and mature. You will stay weak and won’t be able to gain the strength you need as a dancer.
So take your time to get used to know your changing body.
The body will change and that is normal.
And teachers, please don’t comment negatively on a student’s body when their period starts.
We all know that these are necessary changes, and by commenting on their body when their going through puberty (and a huge load of out of whack hormone craziness) it will only create negative body image and heighten stress.
We want to welcome menstruation as a dance community to allow female dancers to grow, become stronger, and feel comfortable in their body so they can do their work of performing and expressing with their body through dance.