Dina Asher-Smith calls for more research into how periods affect performance

Dina Asher-Smith suffered a calf cramp and finished last in the European Championships women's 100m final. Harry Langer/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Dina Asher-Smith has called for more funding for studies on how a woman's period can affect athletic performance after the British sprinter pulled up with cramp during her 100 metres title defence at the European Championships in Munich.

Asher-Smith pulled up midway through Tuesday's race with cramp in her calf and finished last. The 26-year-old returned to action on Thursday to qualify for Friday's 200m final.

"Yeah, girl stuff, issues," Asher-Smith said when asked about her cramps.

"It's something more people need to research from a sports science perspective, because it's absolutely huge.

"Women don't talk about it either. We see girls that have been consistent have a random dip. Behind the scenes they are really struggling, while everyone is thinking, 'What's that? That's random.' We just need more funding.

"I feel like if it was a men's issue there would be a million different ways to combat things. But with women there just needs to be more funding in that area."

British runner Eilish McColgan has joined Asher-Smith in calling for more research and asking why menstruation is still a "taboo" subject in 2022.

In a column for the BBC, McColgan shared some her experiences on how her period has affected her in competitions, from injury problems to having to drop out of races.

"A few years ago, I made the mistake of training too hard during a certain phase of my cycle and ended up tearing my hamstring," she said.

"In 2019, when I brought up how frustrating it is for periods to coincide with a major competition, a man replied on Twitter. His solution was to not bother competing when it's my time of the month and to just schedule another race.

"As if I could simply call up the Olympic Games and ask them to move my event to the following week to fit my cycle."

McColgan said that periods should not be an embarassing topic, and encouraged "coaches, physiotherapists, teachers, parents, partners and friends" to create space for an open dialogue.

"It still fascinates me that a large majority of women struggle with their menstrual cycles every month, and yet no one seems to have the answers. Even now, the research in regards to sport, especially, is sparse," she added.

"I presume it would be addressed in far more detail if it affected men -- especially our top male athletes. Can you imagine how many Premier League footballers would be left on the bench? Curled up into a wee ball, just waiting for the full-time whistle to be blown so they can go home and sleep."

Women's tennis world No. 1 Iga Swiatek addressed the issue at this year's French Open, saying advances in medicine and technology could provide solutions to women athletes.

New Zealand golfer Lydia Ko was praised online during the Palos Verdes Championship in April after she openly discussed suffering back problems during the tournament due to her period.