Morgan Pressel is a professional golf player. At age 18, she became the youngest-ever winner of a LPGA major championship when she won the 2007 Kraft Nabisco Championship (now known as the ANA Inspiration). Earlier in her career, she became the youngest player to ever qualify for the U.S. Women’s Open as a 12-year-old. She has five professional wins and a career-high ranking of fourth in the world. 

Pressel spoke to Just Women’s Sports about her partnership with Wasserman and Orreco, which seeks to provide information on the impact of menstrual cycles on athletic performance. 

(To read an overview of the partnership, click here.) 

I’m sure you first heard about the Orreco partnership from your agent, but I wanted to hear from your perspective how that came about and what was your initial reaction when you heard about it?

For a lot of women, and a lot of female athletes in general, the question of “how can I improve performance by better managing my menstrual cycle” is not something that they think about often. Those words never came out of my mouth before. I was like, Wow! That makes a lot of sense. Why have I never thought of that? I think that women just kind of go about it. They deal with it. It’s a very personal thing in that respect, and not something that’s talked about.

For me personally, I didn’t have any massive debilitating symptoms, but I would know that every month my back would get quite tight and get hard to turn. That’s hard. My timing would go off. I never thought that there would be things that I could actually physically do to help minimize those symptoms and improve my performance. I was very uneducated on it. I think so many women, especially female athletes, are uneducated on what they can do about it.

What is the biggest insight that you’ve learned so far while partnering with Orreco?

The whole idea was so surprising, but it shouldn’t be surprising. It should make 100% sense, but people don’t think about it. It’s understanding exactly what happens in your body through the hormonal changes of your menstrual cycle. And then from there, to be able to understand: Why do we have PMS? What causes that? How do we do our best to mitigate that? For me, a lot of it is eating anti-inflammatory foods. That’s been a really big help for me. I think what’s really great about what Orreco has put together with this FitrWoman app is that it’s all free. Yes, I have worked personally with them to develop a program specifically for me, and it’s still a work in progress every month. But they want to give all women access to this information, which has not been talked about very much before.

Do you think that having more of these conversations would help make discussion about the menstrual cycle’s effect on athletic performance more mainstream? 

Obviously everybody’s different on what they want to talk about, what they want to share, and what they consider to be very personal information. There are parts of the child-bearing process that we like to talk about and some that we don’t. I think the more education that’s out there and the more people are aware of that, especially from the female athletes’ side, the more that can be done to improve your performance around your cycle.

I think it’s going to take time to really get the education out there, because it needs to not be taboo to talk about.

You mentioned eating anti-inflammatory foods around your cycle to help with recovery. Is there anything else in addition to that that you’ve been doing or something that you’ve changed that has directly impacted not only your training, but your recovery as well?

Before I listened to my body, I kind of pushed it away and just kind of pushed through it. But I would say to people—listen to your body more, and take the time when you need it. Make adjustments, because nothing is set in stone. In my career, I’m always traveling to different places, and there’s nothing that is black and white or exactly the same every time. It’s constantly changing and adapting. I have to continually tweak little bits of my preparation.

What does the rest of the year look like for you? In terms of upcoming tournaments and training?

We have about three or four tournaments left for the rest of the year. There will be an off season that’s shorter than usual. Hopefully, next year at some point there will be a little bit more of a return to normalcy. We’re in full training practice mode now. When it comes to the off season, I’ll probably take a little bit of time off especially around the holidays, and then get back to work.

Is there anything else that you wanted to discuss about the Orreco partnership that I didn’t mention?

I think education about it is so important and helpful. It’s really helpful to those who want to be the best, and that’s the majority of female athletes out there. When you’re at the top level, every little bit makes a difference.