Effects of Birth Control on gaining muscle

Discussion in 'Fitness & Pregnancy' started by Erik, Nov 5, 2010.

  1. Erik

    Erik Admin

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    This topic still needs some fleshing out, but it stands to reason that BC will tend to lower hormones essential for gaining LBM and encourage fat storage but it appears which "pill" is used also matters, specifically, the ratios of estrogen and progestins, but clearly, much more research is needed:

    Effect of administration of oral contraceptives on the synthesis and breakdown of myofibrillar proteins in young women.

    Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2009 Oct 22.

    Hansen M, Langberg H, Holm L, Miller BF, Petersen SG, Doessing S, Skovgaard D, Trappe T, Kjaer M.

    Institute of Sports Medicine, Bispebjerg Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark.

    Abstract

    Oral contraceptive (OC) treatment has an inhibiting effect on protein synthesis in tendon and muscle connective tissue. We aimed to investigate whether OC influence myofibrillar protein turnover in young women. OC-users (24+/-2 years; Lindynette((R))n=7, Cilest((R))n=4) and non-OC-users (controls, 24+/-4 years n=12) performed one-legged kicking exercise.

    The next day, the myofibrillar protein fractional synthesis rate (FSR) was measured using stable isotopic tracers ((13)C-proline) while the subjects were fed standardized nutrient drinks. Simultaneously, a marker for myofibrillar protein breakdown, 3-methyl-histidine (3-MH), was measured in the interstitial fluid of the vastus lateralis. Measurements were performed in both legs.

    In general, myofibrillar protein FSR was lower in OC-users (two-way analysis of variance, P<0.05), although the difference seemed to depend on the OC type. Interstitial 3-MH in the skeletal muscle was not different between groups and did not vary by OC type. Exercise did not change myofibrillar protein FSR or 3-MH concentrations.

    Serum androstenedione and bioavailability of testosterone were lower in OC-users. In conclusion, the results indicate that the use of OC has an inhibiting effect on myofibrillar protein synthesis and the magnitude of the effect may depend on the type of OC. In contrast, there was no effect of OC on myofibrillar protein breakdown in the fed state.
    ________________________

    More damaging, but also a write up from a poster session at conference then fully published data from a journal:

    Birth control pills can limit muscle-training gains
    By Janet Raloff


    Some female athletes may pay a price for using oral contraception: lower strength gains from resistance exercise. These muscle-building exercises depend on lifting weights (like barbells and those in the big machines at your local gym) or working against tension bands and bars (like those in Bowflex devices).

    Personal trainers have long noted that all women don’t garner the same benefits from such exercise and there has been a suspicion that genetics might underlie differences. But exercise physiologist Chang Woock Lee and his colleagues at Texas A&M University wondered if other lifestyle factors might also play a role. And at the Experimental Biology meeting in New Orleans, this week, Lee identified birth control pills as a major suspect.

    In an earlier study, Lee’s group noted that many young female athletes reported using oral contraception. These pills have been specifically formulated to alter a woman’s steroid-hormone levels. Since certain steroids can affect how efficiently the body bulks up and gains muscle, Lee wondered whether these pills might also limit strength gains.

    So, three times a week for 10 weeks, the researchers had 73 young women (18 to 34 years old) complete 13 different exercises. The regimen was intense, working muscles throughout the body. None of the recruits had been regularly working out beforehand. But they sure were now. Each had to complete her resistance training against weights that were individually tailored to work her muscles at 75 percent of their maximum strength.

    Thirty-four of the recruits were taking some type of oral contraceptive. And as a group, they gained 2.1 percent muscle mass over the trial — or 40 percent less than the group not on the pill. So I asked Lee: What do you think is going on?

    One clue: Both before and after the trial, he found, women using oral contraception had dramatically lower blood levels of natural anabolic — as in muscle-building — hormones than did recruits not on the pill. The anabolic hormones included DHEA and its more abundant sulfated form, DHEAS. Compared to non-pill-users, women taking oral contraceptives also had substantially higher concentrations of cortisol, a hormone associated with the breakdown of muscle.

    So resistance training “did not rescue” this adverse hormone profile in the pill users, Lee points outs. And, he suspects “those hormone differences might be the underlying factor” accounting for why women on the pill gained less muscle.

    But that’s not the end of the story. Further analysis showed that not all pill users had an equally hard time gaining muscle through exercise. So Lee analyzed the formula for each woman’s contraceptive and found that many types contained progestins — a synthetic form of progesterone, a natural female sex hormone. In tests, he showed that these synthetic hormones bind to the androgen receptor in cells — the same receptor that binds male sex steroids, such as DHEA and DHEAS.

    Lee worries that if progestins dock with a receptor that DHEA would normally have turned on, they could essentially block the true androgen's ability to trigger muscle growth.

    Not all progestins were equally effective at this binding, however. So Lee grouped the contraceptives on the basis of whether their progestins exhibited low, medium or high androgenicity (i.e. androgen-receptor binding). And then a really striking difference emerged.

    Women who took pills containing low-androgenicity progestins acquired muscle through exercise as effectively as did women not on the pill. But women whose oral contraceptives contained medium- or highly androgenic progestins attained less than a 0.5 percent gain in muscle mass over 10 weeks — a far cry from what the others achieved. (By the way, Lee didn’t divulge which brands of contraceptives performed which way, so please don’t write me asking.)

    What all this means, he says, is that for women taking certain brands of the pill, the difference in strength-building from exercise could “make a difference in the color of her medal.” For the rest of us, he says, getting stronger would just require that we work “much harder.”

    http://www.sciencenews.org/view/gene...training_gains
    ___________

    Abstract from the above study:

    Oral Contraceptive Use Impairs Muscle Gains in Young Women
    Chang Woock Lee1, Mark A. Newman2 and Steven E. Riechman1,3

    1 Health and Kinesiology, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX
    2 Human Energy Research Laboratory, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
    3 Nutrition, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX

    ABSTRACT

    Background: Many active young women use oral contraceptive (OC) yet its effect on their body composition and exercise performance has not been thoroughly studied. We examined the effects of oral contraceptive on muscle responses to resistance exercise training (RET).

    Methods: 2 groups of 18-31 year old subjects (OC: n=34, no OC: n= 39) underwent 10 week whole-body RET (3x/week, 3 sets, 6-10 reps, at 75% of max strength). Body composition was determined using hydrostatic weighing. Blood samples were taken before/after the training and assayed for DHEA, DHEAS, cortisol, and IGF1.

    Results: There were significant differences in lean mass gains (OC: 2.1±2.1%, no OC: 3.5±3.2% / OC: 1.0±1.0kg, no OC: 1.6±1.4kg, p<0.05). Plasma concentrations of DHEA, DHEAS, and IGF1 were significantly lower and cortisol was elevated in OC (DHEA: OC 9.5±4.4, no OC 13.6±4.6 / DHEAS: OC 1451±685, no OC 2196±1008 / IGF1: OC 163±42, no OC 239±126 / cortisol: OC 33.4±10.8, no OC 24.3±9.4, ng/ml, p<0.05). There also were significant differences in lean mass gains depending on androgenicity of the progestin in OC (low=2.5%, medium/high=0.3%, P<0.05).

    Conclusion: Oral contraceptive use impaired muscle gains in young women which was associated with lower DHEA, DHEAS and IGF1 and higher cortisol. The diminished lean mass gain may be related to the androgenicity of progestin which may bind to androgen receptor and inhibit its function.

    http://www.fasebj.org/cgi/content/me...stracts/955.25

    -OR-

    http://www.the-aps.org/press/releases/09/16.htm
     
  2. IlPirata

    IlPirata Well-Known Member

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    hmn...
     
  3. mini-muscles

    mini-muscles Member

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    The first study was so small as to be not very illuminating, testing only 11 women on the pill, most of whom were on Lindynette, a pill which is not even used in the United States.

    The second study is an old study which for some reason Will Brink decided to drag out again. It is a lot better, but the main take-home point is that high androgenicity birth control does reduce the ability to build muscle, while low androgencity birth control **does not appear to have a significant dampening effect on muscle gain**. It's a bad news-good news scenario.

    Plenty of people on a well-chosen pill (myself included) can tell you it is possible to build significant muscle. Will it be the maximum amount of muscle possible (without other exogenous hormones) over time? Probably not but that has yet to be proven.

    If you have a medical or personal reason to be on the pill and want to be able to build muscle, you should talk with your doc about low androgenicity choices.
     
  4. Inatic

    Inatic Ya Gotta Wanna! Moderator

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    does bioidentical hormone replacement fall in the same 'category' for instance using natural progesterone and estrogen?
     
  5. mini-muscles

    mini-muscles Member

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    Natural progesterone is considered low in androgenicity, unlike a lot of the synthetic progestins which are used in birth control, so that shouldn't be an issue in terms of protein synthesis and muscle gain.

    The issue of excess estrogen and fat loss is whole other one, though!

    Also, the balance of estrogen to progesterone can have an impact on testosterone, although how much that will effect muscularity may vary.

    None of this is particularly well understood! And few studies are done on real female athletes who have been at it for years. For me, if you're, er, of a certain female age, you have to kind of play around to find a balance between feeling well and your athletic/aesthetic goals.

    But we do know that the best natural biochemical environment for building muscle is called . . . being male, lol!
     
  6. lcmiller461

    lcmiller461 Member

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    :laugh:
     
  7. lcmiller461

    lcmiller461 Member

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    Seriously, though, I need to send this to my daughter, who is having a hard time post pregnancy with getting back to her regular shape. She wasn't taking BC before, but is now.
     
  8. OneMadMonkey

    OneMadMonkey Well-Known Member

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    So is it reasonable to believe that getting off the pill will help with muscle building? I have been off the pill for 4 weeks now and wondering if that will impact me in a more positive way. Also, does anyone know if nursing has any effect on muscle mass? I would assume that effects your hormones in some way?
     
  9. Inatic

    Inatic Ya Gotta Wanna! Moderator

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    Each person, their body and hormonal make up is different. Is your pill progesterone only/mini pill?

    Nursing also has hormone circulating too so it might still depend on your individual hormone status.
     
  10. OneMadMonkey

    OneMadMonkey Well-Known Member

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    Yes, it was the mini pill. Been off for 4 weeks now and not sure what to expect. I'm hoping to be off the nursing as well in another 2-4 weeks.
     
  11. Emma

    Emma Member

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    I was on Yasmin and took myself off it about 3 months ago, too early to say if it has had a positive impact on muscle mass because I am not building at the moment but it had an almost immediate positive effect on weight loss.
     
  12. OneMadMonkey

    OneMadMonkey Well-Known Member

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    I was on Yasmin before I got pregnant. When I got off of it, I didn't notice any difference in anything. My weight stayed exactly the same.
     

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