Senior Lecturer recognised as emerging researcher by Health Research Council

Monday 30 May 2022

A research project looking at menstrual cycle status and iron deficiency diagnosis in healthy females has been awarded an Emerging Researcher First Grant by the Health Research Council (HRC) of New Zealand.

Photo of Claire Badenhorst

Dr Claire Badenhorst.

Last updated: Wednesday 1 June 2022

The project, led by Dr Claire Badenhorst of the School of Sport, Exercise and Nutrition, has been awarded funding of $249,999 over a 36-month period. It aims to examine the changes in menstrual cycle status in response to psychological stress and dietary intake in premenopausal females.

Dr Badenhorst says despite menstrual bleeding being a key contributing factor to the diagnosis of iron deficiency in females, no research to date has identified lifestyle factors that may increase the prevalence of heavy menstrual bleeding in otherwise healthy females, and as such increase their risk of being diagnosed with iron deficiency.

“Having a menstrual cycle has always been considered a major cause of iron deficiency in females, yet I am not sure why there would be such a negative clause for such a natural process. This seems quite a reductionist point of view. I think we need to be educated on changes in the menstrual cycle and how these variations in the cycle could change menstrual bleeding and it is this change that then may contribute to a negative iron balance, not the presence of a healthy cycle,” Dr Badenhorst says.

She adds that this project will be the first health-specific research to consider the phase of the menstrual cycle, the adaptations of the menstrual cycle to psychological and dietary stress, and the resulting impact this has on a prominent adverse health outcome in New Zealand females.

The Emerging Researcher First Grants support emerging researchers who are seeking to establish independent careers in health research. Eleven grants were announced today, with a combined value of $2.7 million.

Learn more about the grants here.

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