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How can oral contraceptive affect your athletic performance?

contraceptive pills

Hormonal effects in general


Even though there are not many studies made regarding the effects hormonal contraceptive pills have on a woman’s athletic performance, it is still quite obvious these artificial hormones may potentially interfere in our endurance sport’s overall performance. Our recovering process is fully impacted by our alerted energy metabolism during the physical activity.



Natural hormones


During a woman’s menstrual cycle, there are two main hormonal phases; the low and the high.  During the low phase, our carbohydrate metabolism and also recovery process are at the same level. This makes us able to handle and complete our HIIT workout and athletic training routines.


On the other hand, during the high hormonal phase, the estrogen is the one that significantly reduces the amount of carbohydrates in our system. It also increases the fat level to produce a not-so-efficient energy. That is why, during this period of time, women experience the feeling of tiredness and are unable to handle any type of high intensity training routine. The increased progesterone makes our body’s temperature to go up and makes our sodium level to drop. Chances for muscle breakdown or other injuries are also higher.



How can non-natural hormones affect our athletic performance (contraceptive pills)?


Chances are, if you’re a female adult then you have at least once taken an oral contraceptive during your life. Many females, including athletes, take these contraceptive pills for many years. But, could this habit affect your endurance sport’s performance? Some recent studies made, including one published by the Strength and Conditioning Journal have analyzed the real effects taking contraceptive pills has on your physical performance.


The basic main result of these studies, indicate that long-term contraceptive usage (more than a year), has a negative effect on V02 peak and V02 in the anaerobic threshold. But, despite this decrease, not all women who have taken contraceptive pills for more than a year, describe any decrease on their athletic performance. This might be due to the fact, taking contraceptive pills, might after all, not bring these much negative effects. Or it just depends on the way each body processes these hormones and manages different chemical processes that they have in charge.





Many experts believe taking contraceptive pills have both, the upsides and downsides regarding their main effect on an athletic body.

Some of the upsides that these pills have, have to do with the menstrual cycle.  Many female athletes tend to over train to the point they experience anomalies in their cycle. Contraceptive pills, especially the ones that have a low dose of hormones, can significantly encourage your body to regulate the menstrual cycle. This can potentially reduce the risk of osteoporosis when in an older age.


The main downsides of taking contraceptive pills while performing endurance sports, is usually related to the weight loss process. These pills are responsible for bloating and also weight gain. For athletes who are trying to lose weight in order to be able to handle physical activity more easy; these pills can really prevent them from achieving any change on their weight, eventually making them slower… Many women expressed they simply feel off whenever they take the pill being unable to finish their full training routine.



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