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Is your oral birth control pill killing your gains in the gym?

Have you ever wondered if your birth control pill could be limiting your gainz in the gym? It is a topic of concern and a valid question to ask.

A new systematic review looked at 8 studies to determine if there is a difference in muscle hypertrophy, power and strength adaptations to resistance training between oral contraceptive pills (OCPs) in users and non-users.

A shout-out to The Institute of Clinical Excellence for bringing this brand-new study to my attention in their weekly newsletter.

To keep it short and sweet for you (you’re welcome), here are the main takeaways:

1. The only hormonal contraceptive studied to date is the OCPs. If you are using a patch, ring, implant or another version of hormonal contraceptive then these results don’t necessarily apply.

2. “OCPs use had no statistically significant effect on these adaptations in response to resistance exercise training interventions of ~ 12 weeks in duration.”

3. “OCPs use does not positively or negatively influence hypertrophy, power or strength adaptations.”

There is always more research to be done and there could be nuances to these results. But overall, this is great news for those of us who use OCPs and have goals of developing hypertrophy/power/strength.

We know that OCPs are used for many reasons not limited to preventing pregnancy. There are many women who use OCPs to alleviate their severe menstrual-related symptoms which could be a barrier to their consistent training. So, if this is you, talk to your medical doctor about what is the best fit for you to stay safely and consistently strength training. I believe strongly that strength training is way too valuable to leave out of our routines. I have seen life-changing results regardless of age, goals, injuries or other limitations. So, keep on lifting and if you aren’t sure where to start, feel free to click the link below for a free discovery call where I can help guide you in the right direction to get started.

Hope this was helpful and let’s talk soon,

Dr. Sieara

Physical Therapist, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Cert. in Dry Needling

P: 828-808-3704

Nolan D, et al. The Effect of Hormonal Contraceptive Use on Skeletal Muscle Hyertrophy, Power and Strength Adaptations to Resistance Exercise Training: A Systematic Review and Multilevel Meta-analysis. Sports Medicine. 2023.

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