25 August 2022
An-all female research team has come together at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) for a world-leading camp focused on the impacts of periods and hormonal contraceptives on female athletes.
The Female Athlete Research Camp will see 26 members of the NRL Indigenous Women’s Academy train full-time at the AIS in Canberra, while being monitored and supported daily by 12 female researchers conducting 10 different studies.
The landmark research for women’s sport is a collaboration between the AIS, the National Women’s Rugby League (NRLW), the Australian Catholic University (ACU), and Boston Children’s Hospital’s Wu Tsai Human Performance‘s Female Athlete Innovation Hub.
The results will form part of the AIS Female Performance and Health Initiative (FPHI) and AIS FPHI Project Lead Dr Rachel Harris OLY said the camp will provide a much-needed insight into how the menstrual cycle and use of hormonal contraceptives impact how a female athlete feels and performs.
“We have seen an incredible growth in women’s sport over the past decade and it’s imperative that we commit to research and innovation to support the health and performance of our female athletes,” Dr Harris said.
“Over the next five weeks, the Female Athlete Research Camp at the AIS will study correlations between sport performance and female health, including the influence of the menstrual cycle and hormonal contraceptives on injury prevention, energy-levels, recovery and sleep, all of which are crucially important for our female athletes being successful in both and in life.”
The athletes taking part are from the ACT, NSW, Queensland and South Australia, while one of the participants travelled from Yam Island, part of the Torres Strait Islands. Genavie Tabuai (nee Sambo), is from Daly River, NT, and the Torres Strait Islands (Zenadth Kes), Meuram Clan of Mer, Masig Island of Kulkalgal Nation.
Genavie said: “This is an amazing chance through the AIS and Australian Catholic University to learn more about our own bodies.
“Our bodies are very different to men and everything that comes along with women’s health really does have an impact on performance, how you play and how you train. Having more knowledge will help us to stay fit and injury free.”
The Female Athlete Research Camp, which is being held on Ngunnawal Country, will also be an opportunity for the First Nations athletes and staff to work with the local Aboriginal community to develop a greater understanding of local traditional customs and participate in workshops to develop strong sense of self, cultural identity, and cultural awareness.
The camp will also provide an opportunity for the development of female Indigenous and Non-Indigenous coaches and performance staff.
The Female Athlete Research Camp will run until Thursday 22 September.