Oral Contraceptive Use Impairs Muscle Gains in Young Women Academic Article uri icon


  • BackgroundMany active young women use oral contraceptive (OC) yet its effect on their body composition and exercise performance has not been thoroughly studied. We examined the effects of oral contraceptive on muscle responses to resistance exercise training (RET).Methods2 groups of 1831 year old subjects (OC: n=34, no OC: n= 39) underwent 10 week wholebody RET (3x/week, 3 sets, 610 reps, at 75% of max strength). Body composition was determined using hydrostatic weighing. Blood samples were taken before/after the training and assayed for DHEA, DHEAS, cortisol, and IGF1.ResultsThere were significant differences in lean mass gains (OC: 2.12.1%, no OC: 3.53.2% / OC: 1.01.0kg, no OC: 1.61.4kg, p<0.05). Plasma concentrations of DHEA, DHEAS, and IGF1 were significantly lower and cortisol was elevated in OC (DHEA: OC 9.54.4, no OC 13.64.6 / DHEAS: OC 1451685, no OC 21961008 / IGF1: OC 16342, no OC 239126 / cortisol: OC 33.410.8, no OC 24.39.4, ng/ml, p<0.05). There also were significant differences in lean mass gains depending on androgenicity of the progestin in OC (low=2.5%, medium/high=0.3%, P<0.05).ConclusionOral contraceptive use impaired muscle gains in young women which was associated with lower DHEA, DHEAS and IGF1 and higher cortisol. The diminished lean mass gain may be related to the androgenicity of progestin which may bind to androgen receptor and inhibit its function.

published proceedings

  • The FASEB Journal

author list (cited authors)

  • Lee, C. W., Newman, M. A., & Riechman, S. E.

complete list of authors

  • Lee, Chang Woock||Newman, Mark A||Riechman, Steven E

publication date

  • April 2009