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Female MMA and menstruation: The bloody truth about fighting with PMS symptoms

According to an April 16 report from MMA Fighting, perennial UFC bantamweight contender Sarah Kaufman defeated Leslie "The Peacemaker" Smith during a preliminary card fight at the TUF Nations Finale in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. Smith, 31, took the bout on just eight days notice, which meant she couldn't be fully prepared for some of the obstacles female UFC fighters sometimes face when signing up for a fight.

Ronda Rousey fought Liz Carmouche in the UFC
Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images

One such obstacle that female fighters face at times is menstruation-related discomfort. Menstruation is a fact of life for most females, but especially for athletes who get booked far in advance to compete at MMA events. Menstruation may be the "elephant in the room" that no one really wants to talk about in public, or even online. However, most female athletes admit being concerned PMS may be a disruption during a fight. PMS symptoms tend to occur approximately one week prior to menstruation.

Most agree that much of the MMA game is mental, not physical. It's mind over body when it comes to MMA competition, so it's important to avoid distractions. Unfortunately for female MMA fighters, hormonal changes due to menstruation is bound to happen, and therefore must be considered for fight night preparation.

It's not uncommon for very active young women -- aspiring female MMA fighters for instance -- to have lower body fat levels than their non-athletic friends, and that could lead to irregular or infrequent periods. With that said, it's sometimes difficult for female MMA fighters to calculate exactly when they will get their monthly visitor.

Since its tough for some females to figure out when in the month they are to expect menstruation-related discomfort, they will often book fights without considering such things. Perhaps its time for this subject to get out in the open, because female UFC fighters should feel comfortable talking about it.

A female UFC fighter suffering from PMS symptoms such as fatigue, cramps, muscle aches and bloating would be at a significant disadvantage against someone who had no such symptoms. Additionally, PMS makes it more difficult for female fighters to make weight, since bloating and food cravings are related symptoms.

MMA star Andy Nguyen agrees this topic should be out in the open. After all, there's no getting around the fact that female fighters have different issues to deal with than males. "Yes, I'm known to fight all the time so yes, I've fought on my period," Nguyen said. "The only thing that sucks, is the week before my period I crave sweets. And if that's near weight cut, that sucks so bad. I try to do sugar-free Reece's and other sugar free stuff."

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