people Greg Nuckols of Stronger by Science has a new research review based on his past knowledge and experience with birth control methods. a new study. The study examined the effects of oral contraceptives on strength gains, hypertrophy and anabolic signaling. Her articles delve into an important question we see regularly: Do female lifters need to worry about hormonal contraceptives affecting their gains?
tl;dr – “If you choose to use hormonal contraceptives, you probably don’t need to worry about your earnings.”
Key points include:
Strength gains and hypertrophy did not differ significantly between groups. However, subjects using oral contraceptives tended to have larger increases in lean body mass with some indicators of molecular anabolism.
When analyzing these results in the context of the rest of the literature, second or third generation oral contraceptives do not appear to have a significant effect on potency or hypertrophy outcomes.
The part that stood out to me was the part that said that any slight or potentially non-trivial advantage was generally less important than other reasons for using oral contraceptives.
Research shows that you probably don’t need to think about your gains when deciding to start, stop or switch oral contraceptives.
The most widely discussed reasons for using or not using oral contraceptives (birth control, more control over your period, management of menstrual symptoms, etc.) seem to be the most justified.
It should also be noted that these studies and findings were largely based on oral contraceptives and did not include other modalities such as the hormonal IUD, which has grown in popularity over the years. More (hopefully!) to come.
There are many forms of hormonal contraception that have not yet been studied in the context of resistance training. We do not know how the mini-pill (progestin-only oral contraception), fourth-generation combination pills, hormonal IUDs, intravaginal inserts, or progestin injections affect potency and hypertrophy.