The Women’s Book on Hormonal Birth Control and Athletic Performance
As author of The Women’s Book Volume 1 one of the more common questions I get is what impact hormonal birth control (i.e. the pill, patch, Depo-provera, etc.) has on performance, training, muscle growth, strength, etc. Given the increasing number of women involved in training or competitive sports, along with the large percentage using hormonal birth control, this is an important question deserving a detailed answer.
Rather than wait to finish the eventually coming Women’s Book Volume 2, I opted to write a shorter booklet addressing the issue. Hormonal birth control has an enormous impact on every aspect of a woman’s physiology, some of which are well established and some of which continue to be discovered.
This includes changes in fuel utilization, body temperature, metabolic rate, along with alterations to the production of myriad hormones in her body such as estrogen, progesterone, testosterone/the androgens and many others. These changes have the potential to impact on many if not all aspects of training, performance, long-term adaptation, etc.
Unfortunately, there is not a great deal of information, certainly not outside of specialized medical research or textbooks that is available on the topic. There is certainly nothing comprehensive on the topic which is where this book comes in.
In it, I examine myriad topics related to athletes and active women. This includes background on the menstrual cycle and the effects of the primary reproductive hormones along with an overview of hormonal birth control itself (perhaps the most complex chapter due to the complexity of hormonal birth control itself).
With that physiological 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 things like bodyweight/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. In each, I discuss both acute performance changes along with how birth control might impact 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 along with a chapter examining different situations a woman might find herself in and how that might impact on her choice of whether or not to even use hormonal birth control or which type might be optimal if she does choose to use it.
My goal in this book is not only to help female athletes make an informed choice regarding hormonal birth control in terms of how it might (or might not) impact on their training. While fully referenced, I made an effort to find a balance between sufficient technical information without getting mired in unnecessary details.
A full reference list appears at the back for interested readers
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Birth Control and Female Athletes
Chapter 2: The Menstrual Cycle
Chapter 3: Reproductive Hormone Effects
Chapter 4: Hormonal Birth Control
Chapter 5: Birth Control Effects
Chapter 6: Birth Control for Athletes Part 1: Benefits and General Effects
Chapter 7: Birth Control for Athletes Part 2: Aerobic and Anaerobic Exercise
Chapter 8: Birth Control for Athletes Part 3: Strength Training and Muscle Gains
Chapter 9: Birth Control Recommendations Part 1: Hormonal Birth Control Summary
Chapter 10: Birth Control Recommendations Part 2: Context Specific Recommendations
The Women’s Book on Hormonal Birth Control and Athletic Performance can be purchased in either PDF or Kindle Format.
The PDF version will open in any e-reader program but will not change its size to fit your screen.
The Kindle version requires a Kindle reader program or device but will change size to fit your screen.
10% from every purchase from will be donated to The Women’s Sports Foundation, a 501c3 charity founded by Billie Jean King and dedicated to creating leaders by ensuring all girls access to sports.