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Does oral contraceptive use affect maximum force production in women?
  1. K J Elliott1,
  2. N T Cable2,
  3. T Reilly2
  1. 1University of Brighton, Brighton, UK
  2. 2John Moores University, Liverpool, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr K Elliott
 University of Brighton, 12 Greendale Close, Fareham PO156ES, UK;


Objective: To examine the effects of oral contraceptive use on maximum force production in young women.

Methods: In the study, 21 female subjects (14 pill users and seven eumenorrheic controls) took part. All pill using subjects had been taking a combined, monophasic oral contraceptive pill for at least 6 months. Maximum dynamic and isometric leg strength, maximum isometric strength of the first dorsal interosseus (FDI) muscle, and plasma concentrations of oestradiol and progesterone were measured on days 7 and 14 of pill consumption and day 5 of pill withdrawal. The eumenorrheic group was tested (FDI strength and hormone concentrations) on days 2 and 21 of the menstrual cycle.

Results: There were no significant changes in the concentration of endogenous oestradiol or progesterone or any measure of muscle strength between pill phases (p<0.05). The pill group did not significantly differ from the eumenorrheic group (p<0.05), despite a significant increase in the concentration of progesterone and oestradiol on day 21 of the menstrual cycle compared with day 2 of the menstrual cycle and pill consumption and withdrawal (p<0.05).

Conclusions: These data suggest that oral contraceptive use does not significantly affect muscle strength. Moreover, oral contraceptive users were not stronger or weaker than their eumenorrheic counterparts.

  • C, consumption
  • EF, early follicular
  • FDI, first dorsal interosseus
  • FSH, follicle stimulating hormone
  • GnRH, gonadotropin releasing hormone
  • HRT, hormone replacement therapy
  • LH, lutenising hormone
  • ML, mid-luteal
  • MVIF, maximum voluntary isometric force
  • N, maximum dynamic and isometric force of the quadriceps and hamstring muscles
  • Nm, maximum voluntary isometric force of the FDI muscle
  • WD, withdrawal
  • oral contraceptives
  • muscle strength
  • oestrogen
  • progesterone

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  • Conflict of interests: none declared

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