Bodybuilding and Contraception: Is Your Birth Control Slowing Your Gains?

Blog Author
Harry Longworth
Date of post
26 April 2024
Blog Category

As someone invested in fitness, you put a lot of time and effort into making progress. You might meticulously track macros, lift heavy, prioritise rest, and dedicate a lot of hours to your fitness journey.

But have you considered how your birth control might be impacting your progress?

This blog post dives into the world of contraception and its potential effects on muscle growth and body composition for female bodybuilders.

Understanding Contraception and Its Impact:

There are many forms of contraception available, each with its own hormonal makeup. Here’s a breakdown of the key players:

Natural Hormones:

  • Estrogen (Estradiol): This naturally produced hormone supports bone health, mood, and sleep.
  • Progesterone: This hormone aids in preparing the uterus for pregnancy and protects memory.

Unnatural Hormones in Birth Control:

  • Ethinyl Estradiol: This synthetic oestrogen found in most birth control pills aims to stop ovulation but can cause side effects like fluid retention and acne.
  • Progestin: This synthetic (human-made) version of progesterone is often used in birth control pills and can negatively affect mood, sex drive, and muscle growth.

The Science Behind It:

While some studies show minimal impact from combined oral contraceptives, others suggest potential drawbacks in terms of hormonal contraception’s impact on natural female bodybuilding: 

  • Decreased Testosterone: Birth control can decrease natural testosterone levels, hindering muscle growth.
  • Nutrient Absorption: Some contraceptives might reduce your body’s ability to absorb nutrients essential for muscle building.
  • Weight Gain and Water Retention: Some forms of birth control can cause weight gain and water retention, affecting your overall physique.
  • Progestin-Only Options: Studies suggest progestin-only birth control, like the mini-pill or Depo-Provera shot, may lead to reduced muscle growth factors compared to other methods.
  • Mirena IUD: While localized, the Mirena IUD still has androgenic properties, potentially impacting muscle gain and fat loss.

Making Informed Decisions:

It’s crucial to weigh the benefits of contraception against its potential effects on your bodybuilding goals. Here’s what you can do:

  • Talk to Your Doctor: Discuss your goals and explore birth control options that best suit your needs.
  • Consider Alternatives: Explore non hormonal birth control methods like condoms or diaphragms.
  • Monitor Your Progress: Track your progress closely and adjust your training or diet if needed.

Remember: This information is for educational purposes only and shouldn’t replace professional medical advice. Always consult with your doctor to determine the best birth control option for you.

By understanding the potential impact of contraception on your bodybuilding journey, you can make informed decisions to reach your fitness goals.

Want to find out more about your training as a female? Here’s a blog post that delves into training around your menstrual cycle. 

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