Birth Control and Athletic Performance
As author of The Women’s Book Volume 1 a common question I get is about hormonal birth control and athletic performance. Every day more and more women are entering sport or simply becoming more active. Research statistics show a large percentage of those women are using birth control. This makes the topic of birth control and athletic performance an important one to address.
I had intended to cover this topic in detail in the forthcoming Women’s Book Volume 2. However, realistically that book will not be finished any time soon. Since it’s such an important issue, I decided to write a shorter booklet instead to address it.
As would be expected, hormonal birth control has an enormous impact on every aspect of a woman’s physiology. While research has determined many of those effects, much remains to be learned. Almost no research exists on the patch, ring or hormonal IUD for example.
Hormonal birth control has an effect on nearly every aspect of a woman’s body. Her hormones are impacted along with how she uses carbohydrate and fat for fuel. Birth control also has the potential to impact on either short-term performance or long-term training adaptations.
Unfortunately, there is little information on the topic outside of specialized medical textbooks and research. That writing is invariably difficult to read and gives little in the way of practical advice on the topic of birth control and athletic performance.
My goal in writing this booklet was to remedy that. To analyze the research and present it in a distilled form for easier reading and understanding. As importantly I wanted to provide real-world recommendations based on that data.
Topics in Birth Control and Athletic Performance
In it, I examine a number of topics related to athletes and active women. The first chapters examine the menstrual cycle along with the effect of a woman’s naturally produced hormones. A detailed examination of hormonal birth control follows those chapters. The sheer complexity of this topic makes this one of the most complex chapters.
With that background, I examine birth control as it pertains to female athletes/active women. First I look at the well established positives and negatives along with the impact on body weight, body composition, injury risk and others.
Following that are chapters examining the research on the impact of hormonal birth control on aerobic and anaerobic activities along with strength training and muscular gain. For each I first discuss the impact of birth control on short-term performance. Then I look the effect on long-term adaptations to training. In many cases, there is ample research (although much of it is poorly done), in others very little.
The book ends with an overview of birth control recommendations based on the research to date. This includes examining different situations a woman might find herself in. This impacts on whether or not a woman might choose hormonal birth control along with what is optimal.
My goal in this book is not only to help female athletes make an informed choice regarding hormonal birth control and athletic performance. In writing this book, I tried to find a balance between technical and applied information. I also provided a full reference list for readers wishing to delve further.
10% from every purchase from will be donated to The Women’s Sports Foundation. This is a 501c3 charity founded by Billie Jean King and dedicated to creating leaders by ensuring all girls access to sports.