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Menstrual Cycle Coaching (Internal)

Menstrual Cycle Coaching (MCC) is now available for WHOOP 3.0 and 4.0! This new feature will help members who menstruate and are not on hormonal birth control better understand their individual cycles and optimize their training and sleep during menstruation. 

Members who use Copper IUDs can also access the MCC feature. 

Some benefits of MCC: 

  • Aligns a member's unique menstrual cycle with strain and sleep recommendations, so they can get real-time, personalized insights on how to train with their cycle instead of against it. 
  • Adjusts strain and sleep coach recommendations to account for a member's monthly hormonal changes.
  • Map out the different phases of a member's menstrual cycle and the impact each phase has on their sleep efficiency and ability to recover from strain.
  • Provide members who menstruate more insight into the state of their body and the knowledge needed to improve overall performance during menstrual hormonal shifts.

When interacting with members on MCC, focus on being open and not prescriptive (i.e. using terms like "try" rather than "you must"). This can be a sensitive topic for some, and we want to acknowledge members who may have difficulty taking suggestions on this topic.

For example, while our research recommends members to increase strain while on their period, some members may simply not want to increase any strain or workout at all, and we should be empathetic to this type of response. 

Why was Menstrual Cycle Coaching created?

Historically, women experience dramatic hormonal shifts throughout the phases of the menstrual cycle (varies by individual), producing different physiological responses (i.e. ability to take on strain, sleep need, etc.). Previously, these responses and experiences have been poorly understood due to limited scientific research. Beginning with the MCC, WHOOP aims to achieve ground breaking research into women's health. 

Additionally, the MCC will help provide more accurate strain and sleep coach recommendations and Weekly Performance Assessments (WPAs) for members who menstruate and are not on hormonal birth control. These insights will allow members to:

  • plan their training
  • adapt their sleep patterns
  • improve their overall performance 

Breaking down the menstrual cycle

At a high level, the menstrual cycle consists of two main consecutive phases, lasting about 24-37 days in duration: 

Follicular phase: begins the cycle starting on the first day of menstruation and ending 11-27 days later with ovulation (releasing an egg).

Luteal phase: completes the cycle, starts at ovulation and ends just before menstruation begins.

These cycles continue one after the other, as long as they’re not interrupted by pregnancy, menopause, or health issues that may affect menstruation.

At a more granular level, the menstrual cycle can actually be broken down further into four phases, with duration of days (per phase) within the cycle:

  • Actual menstruation (period) - usually lasts about 4-6 days.
  • Follicular phase - begins with your period and continues until ovulation. (approximately 11-20 days)
  • Ovulation - usually occurs around cycle day 14, but the range for this can also occur several days before and after.
  • Luteal phase - the last phase of the cycle, lasting about 9-16 days.  image__9_.png

(image source - bellybelly.com.au)

To learn more about how the MCC can help members optimize their sleep, recovery and training during the different phases of their menstrual cycle, visit the FAQs section of WHOOP Features: Menstrual Cycle Coaching.

 


How does Menstrual Cycle Coaching work?

People who menstruate naturally experience dramatic hormonal shifts throughout the phases of the menstrual cycle that vary by individual, producing different physiological responses (i.e. heightened ability to take on strain, increased sleep need, etc.) that have been previously poorly understood due to limited scientific research.

By tracking menstruation in the WHOOP Journalstrain and sleep coach will calibrate to each phase of a user's cycle to provide more accurate recommendations.

In contrast, members who take a form of (hormonal) birth control, the pre-existing strain and sleep coach algorithms are already accurate. 


Isn't there conflicting research on training during menstrual cycles?

Research in this area continues to evolve, and thus will continue to produce conflicting results.  WHOOP is committed to furthering the research to continually improve our features and understanding of women’s physiology. 

We believe our analysis is correct. Our WHOOP data supports our findings and Dr. Stacy Sims’ research supports our feature. 

A subset of disproportionately healthy people who have a better hormone balance can affect a study, so depending how a study population is segmented, there may be varying results. 

  • Using the MCC feature, WHOOP members can monitor their Recovery scores and conduct their own experimentation on determining what their bodies typically do during each phase of their cycle.

What sets MCC apart from what our competitors are doing? 

  • Unlike our competitors, the MCC takes into account day to day (current) baselines for hyper specific analysis. 

  • To clarify, our competitors focus on predicting a unique user's strain or sleep need based on the time of their cycle. The MCC is hyper-specific to a user's body and combines user data with algorithmic insight.

Other apps and wearable integrations WHOOP 
Help users track their cycle. 

Tracks user cycles and recommends how a user should adjust their physical activity and sleep to account for and maximize health and productivity. 

The MCC only tracks a member's current cycle and moving forward (i.e. start date of next period, but not how long that cycle will last for them). 


How to access Menstrual Cycle Coaching (in-app) 

Members can access the MCC via the Coaching Tab in app, where a blue banner notification (see below) will pop up: 

Screen_Shot_2021-11-16_at_12.10.31_PM.png

Once a member taps on the blue banner, they'll be taken through the MCC setup flow, where they will be prompted to answer a series of questions related to their menstrual cycle. 

Below are the screen views of the in-app set up flow: 

IMG_3916.PNG

IMG_3917.PNG

Screen_Shot_2021-11-16_at_3.18.13_PM.png

Step 1/4: The member will be asked to confirm if they are on any form of birth control: (Remember: Only members who select Copper IUD or None of the Above will be able to access the MCC feature) 

IMG_3919.PNG

Step 2-3/4: The Member will be asked for the start date of their last period (they can also select I'm Not Sure

IMG_3920.PNG    Screen_Shot_2021-11-16_at_3.21.30_PM.png

Step 4/4: Once the member completes steps 1-3, they are now set to track menstruation via the WHOOP Journal. 

IMG_3921.PNG

 


Setting up Menstrual Cycle Coaching 

DISCLAIMER: While we only sent MCC feature notifications (blue banner pop-up) to members who identified as female during their initial WHOOP onboarding, anyone who is interested can enable the feature through the WHOOP Journal. We simply don't actively promote MCC to members who initially identified as male during their onboarding.

The following steps take a member through how to enable the MCC feature in WHOOP Journal. 

  1. Make sure you have the latest version of the WHOOP installed.

   2. In-app, navigate to the WHOOP Journal from the overview screen. 

   3. To edit your journal, tap on the pencil icon.
   4. To customize your journal, tap on the settings icon (in the top right corner). 
   5. Scroll to the right to the Reproductive Health tab.
   6. Tap the plus sign to enable the menstruating toggle; if you already have the toggle enabled, tap the “On birth control?” box below the menstruating line item.
   7. Answer the birth control question. NOTE: Only users who select either a) on a Copper IUD, or b) None of the above are able to receive this feature. 
   8. Tap Save.
   9. Once you've read the message informing you that you must continue to use the Journal daily to track your cycle, tap “Got it.”

 This may be within 24-48 hours if you have already been tracking your menstrual cycle in the WHOOP Journal. 

  • If you are new to WHOOP, there is a one-cycle calibration period (roughly one month) before your strain and sleep Coach recommendations will switch over to menstrual-cycle based coaching.

Error Message "Menstrual Cycle Insights Unavailable" 

If a member writes in regarding MCC displaying "Menstrual Cycle Insights Unavailable", it is likely because there are no non-menstruating days logged in between menstrual periods logged. 

The member can solve this issue by starting to log menstruating AND non-menstruating days in their journal and continue to do so throughout the month. In order for this feature to work effectively, the member must keep "Menstruating" as an active WHOOP Journal option throughout the month and answer the question each day.

 

image-20220211-150713.png


FAQs

This section provides answers to some common questions that members may have regarding Menstrual Cycle Coaching.

What happens if you don't follow the strain and sleep Coach recommendations? 

  • The repercussion of not following strain and sleep Coach recommendations is just a lower Recovery score (the following day). Some people will be less sensitive to the hormone fluctuations than others. 

  • For example: Let’s say you didn’t follow a particular strain/sleep recommendation and proceed to go on a run. Normally, this run wouldn’t have much of an effect on your Recovery, but in this case, could make you fall into Yellow or Red (Recovery). If you’re okay with that outcome, keep pushing. However, if you are hyper recovery focused or need to perform (the next day), then follow the recommendations.

Should you listen to your body or follow the MCC strain and sleep coach?

  • Generally speaking, you should listen to your body. That being said, we recommend using this feature the same way you would other features on WHOOP.
  • There are all kinds of reasons your personal experience can vary. Keep in mind, the recommendations are based on helping you get back to your baseline (for tomorrow).
  • Menstruation is an inflammatory response and can lead to lack of motivation or lowered willingness to train.

Isn't there conflicting research on training during menstrual cycles?

  • Research in this area continues to evolve, and thus will continue to produce conflicting results.  WHOOP is committed to furthering the research to continually improve our features and understanding of women’s physiology. 
  • We believe our analysis is correct. Our WHOOP data supports our findings and Dr. Stacy Sims’ research supports our feature. 

A member says they didn't receive a blue pop notification informing them of the MCC feature. Why did this happen and how can they still access it?

  • This can happen most likely due to the member not being on the latest app version. To ensure members receive the MCC feature notification, we recommend they update to the latest app versions:

          iOS: version 4.6.11

          Android: version 4.23.1

  • As mentioned in Setting up Menstrual Cycle Coaching, only members who identified as female during their initial WHOOP onboarding will receive the MCC pop up notification. However, anyone who is interested can enable the feature through the WHOOP Journal, using the steps from the Setting up Menstrual Cycle Coaching section. We simply don't actively promote MCC to members who initially identified as male during their onboarding.

If the MCC is only accessible to members who either use a Copper IUD or are not on any birth control, what about members who are on birth control?

  • For members who are on hormonal birth control, the pre-existing strain and sleep coach algorithms in-app are already accurate. 

A member wrote in asking why their strain recommendations were lower than normal despite having a high recovery. Why would this happen and how do we explain this to them? 

  • FYI for agents: This scenario is not a bug, but is purposeful in the MCC design process.
  • The actual range for a member's daily strain recommendations (while using the MCC feature) is based on the individual's current percentage of their menstrual cycle completion. 

What this means: 

  • Early in the menstrual cycle, recommended strain is HIGH even when the member's recovery is LOW. 
  • Later in the menstrual cycle, recommended strain is LOW even when the member's recovery is HIGH. 

Visual: 

Screen_Shot_2021-11-23_at_9.43.21_PM.png

Screen_Shot_2021-11-23_at_9.43.11_PM.png

Can a user reset their MCC if their dates are off or for any other reason?

Yes, users can effectively reset the MCC feature by following the same steps described in Setting Up Menstrual Cycle Coaching.


MCC Glossary (notable terms)

Below is a glossary of notable MCC related terminology and their definitions. 

Term = left column

Definition = right column

Term Definition 
Menstruation The process in which an unfertilized female has blood discharge from her vagina for about 2-7 days every month, except during pregnancy. 

Proliferative

Via healthline.com definition:

In reference to the follicular phase, The term proliferative means that cells are multiplying and spreading. 

Secretory

In relation to menstrual cycle, secretory = the luteal phase, or the second half of the menstrual cycle after ovulation. 

Ovarian Cycle

A reproductive cycle consisting of three phases: follicular (pre-ovulatory), ovulation, and luteal (post ovulatory). 

Uterine Cycle 

A reproductive cycle consisting of the preparation and maintenance of the lining of the uterus (womb) to receive a fertilized egg.  

Progesterone 

A hormone that stimulates the uterus to prepare for pregnancy.

Estrogen

A hormone that develops and regulates female characteristics within the human body.

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