Though we may put on the same size gloves and mouthpiece women and men differ in some of the types of injuries they can potentially sustain in the cage. The most obvious is that women are not going to be out for five minutes because of a kick to the testicles. That’s not anatomically possible. On the other side, there are some potential injuries that are unique to women, which can be similarly painful.
These little guys are often underestimated in their number. A good number of women avoid the formation of ovarian cysts simply by staying on some form of contraceptive which regulates the menstrual cycle. The cysts are typically formed when the egg is not released, which causes the follicles around the ovary to fill with fluid eventually becoming cysts.
Many female fighters find it harder to compete when on birth control because of side effects such as water retention and weight gain which can hinder the weight cutting process. This causes an increased chance of ovarian cysts.
Though the cysts are typically small and not seriously harmful they will cause pain when the cystic wall breaks causing fluid to leak into the abdomen. This pain can last several days. It can also sometimes cause bleeding, bloating and abdominal sensitivity and other uncomfortable symptoms if more severe.
Deterioration of the wall can happen naturally as the cyst increases in size, but trauma can also cause the rupture. A hard kick to the abdomen is very likely to cause this type of trauma. This is not necessarily the type of pain that will drop you to your knees in the middle of the fight though the pain may be sharp, because adrenalin is a pretty good mask. Afterwards it is likely to feel like an incessant menstrual cramp that you just cannot get rid of.
Ovarian cysts can be diagnosed with an ultrasound, though unless they are over 5cm large they are typically not a surgical concern. In the case of a ruptured cyst it is recommended that you have an ultrasound to make sure there are no greater concerns. If that is the case, it is best to take some pain relievers and wait it out.
Breast Fat Necrosis
That sure sounds gross doesn’t it? Though this is one area that can affect both men and women, it is more common in women for pretty obvious reasons. It is not the most common culprit, but breast fat necrosis can appear as a result of trauma to the breast area. This could arise from sustaining punches or kick the area, which causes the fat cells to lack oxygen and die.
The hardened dead tissue often forms a lump which can be unnerving. The lump itself is generally not painful and will often subside on it own over time. Some may need to be surgically removed. If you do notice a lump on your breast, please have it checked out and do not assume it is breast fat necrosis.
Vulvodynia and Vulva Pain
This is the one that makes you fall down and ask for a couple of minutes to recover. A kick to the vulva is not uncommon and often results in a dull aching pain upon impact, though if executed with intense force it can cause some significant damage in the moment.
Ok, we are about to get a little graphic/anatomical. The clitoris has over 8,000 nerve endings, which makes it more sensitive than any other part of the male or female anatomy. The labia does provide some protection, though if you were to stand in a traditional fight stance and sustain a direct upward kick, you can guarantee it is going to hurt.
With the summer Olympics underway it may be worthwhile to note a couple of situations where this has occurred. Australian Olympian Lauren Burns was kicked in the vulva on two occasions during the Gold Medal Tae Kwon Do match for her weight group at the 2000 Olympics, and each time she had to take a time out and hold her clitoris in pain; even though she was wearing female groin protection. In a Women’s Soccer match between USA and Japan at the 2004 Olympics, one of the Japanese players was kicked in the clitoris causing her to the ground in extreme pain, where she stayed for an extended period of time.
Some doctors have linked the condition “vulvodynia” to trauma to the vulva. This is a chronic pain syndrome, which seems to vary in severity from a constant burning or stabbing pain to a dull ache which comes and goes in a specific area.
Much of the time ice and rest will easy the pain of a kick to the vulva, but if it persists you should see a doctor.