"I feel proper self-conscious all the time": A qualitative study of adolescent girls’ views of menstruation and physical activity.

Jessica E Harvey, Lydia G Collison*, Simon J Sebire

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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Background: Many children and adolescents do not engage in sufficient physical activity. Girls are less active than boys, and their activity levels decline more steeply with age. Menstruation may be associated with the decline in girls’ activity but there are few person-centred studies examining adolescent girl’s experiences of menstruation and physical activity. These are needed to understand the influence that menstruation has on the physical activity experiences of girls to inform effective interventions.

Methods: Focus groups were conducted with 46 girls aged 13-15 years across three schools. The discussions explored; experiences of, barriers to and facilitators of being active during menstruation; experiences in physical education/sports teams; and talking with others about periods and being active. Data were analysed using thematic analysis.
Results: Four themes were identified: 1) balancing perceived barriers and benefits 2) motivation and enjoyment, 3) social influences and 4) coping strategies. Participants reported using diverse strategies to overcome barriers to being active posed by menstruation and the importance of peer-support and enjoyable forms of activity.

Conclusions: Menstruation has a strong influence on girls’ physical activity experiences through intra- and inter-personal factors. The implications for how these can be addressed in efforts to increase girls’ physical activity are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Article number279
Number of pages10
JournalWellcome Open Research
Publication statusPublished - 26 Nov 2020

Structured keywords

  • SPS Exercise, Nutrition and Health Sciences


  • physical activity
  • Girls
  • adolescents
  • Menstruation
  • exercise
  • Puberty

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