Artificial Hormones Affect Female Athletic Performance and more

  • “A 2011 survey of 123 skiers and biathletes by FasterSkier found that 71 percent had used hormonal birth control. Of those, almost half believed that it had negatively impacted their performances via weight gain, reduced strength and endurance, mood swings, loss of competitive drive, and other factors. Two standout high school skiers told FasterSkier that after starting hormonal birth control just before going to college, their performances either stagnated or declined – that is until each decided to stop taking contraceptives.

Athletes face enormous pressure over whether to take hormonal contraceptives (HC).  There are many questions surrounding the decision to use HC. “Does it increase the risk of breast cancer? Lead to infertility? Cause increased mortality? While the answers to these questions appear to be “no,” the effects of added hormones on the human body still aren’t fully understood – and the impact on athletic performance has barely been examined”. HC use is common among elite athletes, and the continuation of HC is used to manipulate the menstrual cycle in sports competitions. Although HC use is common in elite athletes knowledge surrounding the menstrual cycle and oral contraceptives is low

HC not only affects performance in athletes but it affects every cell and system in their bodies.  A recent study found that Combined Oral Contraceptive use markedly elevated chronic low-grade inflammation in athletes, which could predispose to a higher inflammatory response to physical stress and elevate cardiovascular risk. Also, the use of oral, transdermal, and vaginal contraceptives impairs glucose tolerance. The use of the potent synthetic steroids has been associated with low bone mineral density and increased fracture risk in some studies.

Athletes who use the oral contraceptive pill may be exposed to long-term problems from low values of “unbound” testosterone.  Synthetic hormones decrease the levels of androgens by two mechanisms. First, the direct inhibition of androgen production in the ovaries. Second the lower levels of androgens stimulates an increase in the hepatic synthesis of sex-hormone binding globulin, the major binding protein for androgens and other steroids. The combination of these two mechanisms leads to low circulating levels of “unbound” or “free” testosterone potentially leading to continuing sexual, metabolic, and mental health consequences.

Instead of compromise their performance and wellbeing with the use of Hormonal Contraception, female athletes have a safe, natural, and smart alternative. Learning a fertility awareness method, athletes can  track the biomarkers of their fertility cycle and tailor their training and nutrition. The knowledge of the cyclical hormonal changes in their bodies can empower athletes to make wise decisions, avoid injury, and improve performance. Tracking the fertility cycle can help athletes to identify abnormalities caused by underlying medical conditions, nutrition deficiencies, and over training. Hormonal contraception can mask the underlying problem delaying appropriate medical intervention and adding more health issues. The challenge for athletes  is to work with their natural hormones not against them.





Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.