Sunday, 7 October 2012

The Pill

I've been reading about the Pill and it's effects on athletes.
I generally don't count little numbers, the gains from things like shaving legs have never interested me, (although I do shave my legs anyway, because good grooming and not resembling Bigfoot is important).

However, I've been reading a study that found the women who took part in a specific muscle/weight/resistance trial who were on the pill had 40% less muscle mass gain than those who were not. That's quite worrying. While I may not want to be a body builder, my swimming and cycling strength is very important to me. Could this be one the many reasons women gain weight on the pill, as less muscle mass effects their metabolism? Does it effect existing muscle or just the ability to build more? 40% is such an enormous number, I don't think I can afford to ignore this. It has been shown women on the pill are less likely to have stress fractures, as it increases bone density, but then resistance work will also do that for me.

There is no concrete evidence to support a VO2max negative side effect, some studies have shown it to be a 5% reduction. Although women have won Olympic medals both on and off the pill, and at every every hormonal phase, but there are plenty who report either a big help from the pill, or a huge hindrance. Marathoners who claim being on the pill slashed their endurance. If it is a truly personal thing I feel I ought to try.

I've been on the pill for few years, and right now it's a handy habit rather than a necessity. It's not like I am at risk of getting knocked up 24 hours a day, I operate a very strict make 'em wait policy.  There would be time to plan.

It seems it takes 4-6 weeks after cessation for the benefits to be evident, which will be hard to monitor as my fitness will be improving anyway, but I shall try anyway.

Muscle article

VO2Max article

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