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Emma Jillian Pilcher, Trinity Hambrick, Riya Patel, Catherine Winstanley, Paul Whitehead, Ryan Conners, FACSM. The University of Alabama in Huntsville, Huntsville, AL.

BACKGROUND: Hormonal changes during a typical menstrual cycle, such as estrogen and progesterone fluctuations, influence physiological changes. Aerobic performance and reactive strength index (RSI) decrease during the menstrual cycle's mid-luteal phase (LP), which is marked by elevated levels of estrogen and progesterone. The rise in estrogen marks the follicular phase (FP), which precedes ovulation, and through FP, progesterone levels are low. Oral contraceptives (OC), which are known to stabilize these fluctuations in hormone levels as well as mitigate premenstrual symptoms, may cause less variance in aerobic performance and RSI. There is minimal research investigating the impact of the menstrual cycle and OC on these measures of athletic performance, thus contributing to a lack of awareness amongst female athletes about their physiology. The purpose of this study is to determine the effects of menstrual cycles and the use of OC on athletic performance in collegiate athletes. Furthermore, we aim to analyze whether performance differences are more pronounced between menstrual cycles in users versus non-users of OC. The findings of this study may contribute to better understanding the effects of the menstrual cycle on aerobic capacity and RSI, providing practitioners practical information when structuring training sessions for female athletes. METHODS: The menstrual cycles and ovulation calendars of participants will be tracked using the mobile app Flo. Participants will self-report their OC use, cycle length, menstruation dates, and ovulation calendar information to researchers for tracking and analysis purposes. Data will be collected for eight consecutive weeks to ensure the collection of data during the FP, LP, and menstruation for each participant. Performance testing will consist of a 300-yard shuttle run, and two countermovement rebound jumps on force plates, allowing for analysis of jump height and RSI. Body composition measures of fat-free mass and body fat percentage will also be analyzed weekly utilizing a Bod Pod GSX. We will conduct a multifactorial ANOVA to analyze changes across the phases and groups, with significance set at p < 0.05. ANTICIPATED RESULTS: It is hypothesized there will be a decrease in aerobic performance and RSI during the LP, and athletes who are not on OC will see the most significant variation in their performance across their cycle.

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