Trial design: Double-blind, counter-balanced, crossover trials were conducted to examine whether tennis performance was affected during menstruation, with and without dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-S) supplementation.
Methods: Ten Division 1 collegiate tennis players (aged 18-22 years) were evenly assigned into placebo-supplemented and DHEA-supplemented (25 mg/day) trials. Treatments were exchanged among the participants after a 28-day washout. Tennis serve performance was assessed on the first day of menstrual bleeding (day 0/28) and on days 7, 14 and 21.
Results: Mood state was unaltered during the menstrual cycles in both trials. The lowest tennis serve performance score (speed times accuracy) occurred on day 14 (P=0.06 vs day 0; P=0.01 vs day 21) in both placebo and DHEA trials. Decreased performance on day 14 was explained by decreased accuracy (P=0.03 vs day 0/28; P=0.01 vs day 21), but not velocity itself. Isometric hip strength, but not quadriceps strength, was moderately lower on day 14 (P=0.08). Increasing plasma DHEA-S (by ~65%) during the DHEA-supplemented trial had no effects on mood state, sleep quality or tennis serve performance.
Conclusion: We have shown that menses does not affect serve performance of collegiate tennis players. However, the observed decrement in the accuracy of serve speed near ovulation warrants further investigation.