WHOOP Features: Menstrual Cycle Coaching

 

Menstrual Cycle Coaching (MCC) is a new feature designed for WHOOP 3.0 + 4.0 members who menstruate and are not on hormonal birth control.

NOTE: MCC is accessible to members who use Copper IUDs. 

Menstrual Cycle Coaching Benefits
  • Tracks your unique menstrual cycle and provides more accurate strain and sleep recommendations, so you can get real-time, personalized insights on how to train with your cycle instead of against it.
  • Map out the different phases of your menstrual cycle and the impact each phase has on your sleep efficiency and your 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. 

 

This article will provide in-depth answers to MCC related questions, how it works, and the research and study conducted by WHOOP to create this feature. 

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Menstrual Cycle (Overview)

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. Starts on the first day of actual menstruation and ends 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.

  • Learn more about how to optimize your sleep, recovery and training efforts during the different phases of your cycle here

How do I access Menstrual Cycle Coaching? 

From the coaching tab in-app:

(W battery icon) 

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You'll see a notification to “get personalized coaching based on your menstrual cycle” (MCC) via a blue banner (image below):       

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By tapping on the blue banner, you will be taken through the MCC setup flow. In flow, you will be asked to answer a series of questions, including whether or not you are currently taking hormonal birth control, the start date of your last period, etc. 

NOTE: The MCC feature is only accessible for members who menstruate through a natural cycle and are not on hormonal birth control. 

  • If you don’t know the start date of your last period or your average cycle length, the MCC has a calibration period of one full cycle (average of 28 days). 
  • Once you complete the setup flow, menstruation will be automatically added to your WHOOP journal (this applies for all members, including those who are on hormonal birth control).                           

How does Menstrual Cycle Coaching work? 

  • People who menstruate experience dramatic hormonal shifts throughout the phases of the menstrual cycle.

  • Hormonal shifts may vary by individual and result in 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 Journal, strain and sleep Coach will calibrate to each phase of your cycle for more accurate recommendations.

What is the research behind this? 

  • We worked with Dr. Stacy Sims to conduct this study, published in the British Medical Journal, which helped us better understand the menstrual cycle in the context of training, which has historically lacked in research. 

Why is it good to maximize training during your period?

  • During the follicular phase, more testosterone is produced than during other phases. This hormone allows us to build muscle and recover better.
  • Whatever exercise you do, you’ll achieve better gains, and ultimately get "fitter, faster". 
  • Through our research and data findings, we found that you can do the same workout and bounce back better during your follicular phase compared to your luteal phase (which begins after ovulation).

I have an irregular cycle; can I still use Menstrual Cycle Coaching? 

While the Menstrual Cycle Coaching algorithm is most accurate for members with a regular cycle, the algorithm will adapt to the individual user. 

  • WHOOP automatically removes cycles of unusual length (very long or very short) from your history so any irregular cycles wouldn't impact predictions much. 
  • If you are extremely irregular (46 or more days without menstruating), then Menstrual Cycle Coaching will automatically turn off. 
  • To utilize the full feature, you need to be on a natural cycle (see next question).

Can WHOOP predict my cycle? 

WHOOP can predict menstrual cycles for members with a natural cycle, meaning:

  • Those who have a copper IUD.
  • Those who do not take hormonal birth control.

Natural cycles cause hormonal fluctuations that result in changes in strain tolerance and sleep efficiency.

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Hormonal birth control eliminates the hormonal fluctuations that members with a natural cycle  experience. Therefore, if you take a form of hormonal birth control, the pre-existing strain and sleep coach algorithms are already accurate for you.

 

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Will Menstrual Cycle Coaching provide pregnancy insights? 

At this time, MCC does not provide pregnancy insights. However, it can help you track your menstrual cycle. Sometimes, a missed period may be a sign of pregnancy, so please check in with a health professional regarding pregnancy and health concerns.

In the works: As we continue to evolve in our technology and research, future versions of WHOOP may potentially implement pregnancy prediction through skin temperature readings. 


How does MCC differ from other menstrual tracking apps or other wearables?

Other apps and wearable integrations Help users track their cycle. 
WHOOP  Tracks user cycles and recommends how a user should adjust their physical activity and sleep to account for and maximize health and recovery.  

Why did WHOOP make a menstruation feature? 

This is the first of several features WHOOP is developing to help women throughout all life stages, from menstruation and fertility to pregnancy, post-partum, menopause, and more. Menstrual Cycle Coaching is a continuation of the investments WHOOP is making in women’s performance science.


Does MCC improve recovery? 

MCC can improve your recovery, provided that you follow the sleep and strain coaching recommendations.


Why is my recommended Strain so high/so low?

  • We recommend a strain target that will help you achieve a baseline recovery the following day.
  • If your day strain exceeds the coaching recommendation, you will be more likely to have lower (yellow or red) recovery the next day.
  • If you take on less strain than recommended, you'll be more likely to get a green recovery.

Important Note:

Recommendations are based on a member's recovery and menstrual phase, but are not tuned to the member's individual physiological response to their cycle.

What this means: 

Exceeding recommended strain, for the most part, is completely okay to do - and can even contribute to fitness gains. To achieve optimal performance, try putting more focus on recovery for those specific days. 


What should I do during my different menstrual cycle phases?

Early Follicular Phase

(Actual Menstruation) → 

  • Your estrogen and progesterone levels are at the lowest level they’ll reach during the month.
  • Meanwhile, your testosterone levels are at its highest. 
  • What this means: you can synthesize muscle better and recover more efficiently during your period than at any other point of the month.

Sleep Tip: You’ll likely have a slightly harder time with sleep efficiency so it’s important to spend a bit more time in bed during your period to help your body out.

Late Follicular → 

(Before Ovulation) 

  • As your body prepares to ovulate, your tolerance for Strain will gradually diminish.
  • This is a good time to focus on quality warm ups and strength-based training

Sleep Tip: This phase generally has minimal impact on your sleep, so focus on targeting your usual bed and wake times. 

 

Early Luteal →

(After Ovulation) 

  • After ovulation, your estrogen and progesterone levels will rise and your body allocates energy to support the newly released egg. 
  • Because your body is maximizing focus on allocating energy, you may have a harder time recovering from intense workouts.
  • If you’re okay with a few lower (yellow/red) recoveries during this phase, feel free to continue to push yourself the way you normally would.
  • If you are focused on Recovery and injury prevention, however, make sure you invest in quality warmups and experiment with alternating lighter/heavier workout days to see how your body responds.

Sleep Tip: This phase has minimal impact on your sleep efficiency, so you can target your usual bed and wake times. 

 

Late Luteal →

(Pre-Menstrual) 

  • Your hormones will fluctuate the most during this phase, which means your body uses more energy than usual (outside of exercise), and you may feel abnormally sluggish. 
  • Your body will likely have a harder time recovering from workouts, so try to increase both your fluid (water) and sodium intake to boost performance and Recovery during this phase.

Sleep Tip: you may need to spend more time in bed to fulfill your body’s sleep need

 

 


MCC Glossary 

The following glossary consists of notable MCC related terminology and their definitions. 

 

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. 

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.

 

Last Updated: November 21st, 2021 

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