T Nation

A Womens Opinion


#1

I reaching out to not just the single ladies but any lady really for some help and suggestions.

I am currently training an (25yrs old)athlete who is going through hell with birth control/hormones. She was placed on it a little over a year ago (not forcefully placed but wanted to start taking it) and since then her endocrine system has been an emotional rollercoaster. Mainly she gets 2 period a month about 2 weeks apart. Once symptoms started I looked at her BC and noticed that the dosage was very high (in my opinion too high) and suggested she ask to lower the dose. The hesitant OBGYN brought her down slowly but she is still suffering from problems of high E(dosage still too high in my opinion). She was a pretty good athlete before with probably higher T to E ratio. Now she seems to be suffering from high E issues. She also, probably 4-5 months ago, developed a bengin lump in her breast (an issue usually related to an estrogen imbalance.) I was wondering from your females (males can definitely throw in too) if you had any suggestions or advice? Also I did have her do blood work (of course its not on me) and I can post that too if it helps?
Thank you so much.


#2

Birth control is the devil. That's all I've got.


#3

That's to small to read.


#4

I'm with PMPM. I never thought it was a good idea to mess with my hormones - I'm not a dairy cow - so I refused to take it. I would suggest she get off the thing pronto and find another method.


#5

This doesn't directly speak to the decreased athleticism reported in the OP but it's information to be aware of, particularly the effects of SHBG on testosterone. We women already have far less T than the men. It seems a little crazy to bind what we do have. Some women seem more sensitive to the libido-lowering effects than others. My doctor never told me this stuff.

It appears that the birth control pill affects sex drive because it acts directly on a woman's sexual hormones. In particular, the birth control pill inhibits the production of androgens, including testosterone, in a woman's ovaries. Androgens have a direct effect on the pleasure that you experience during sexual intercourse. Additionally, the birth control pill also appears to increase the amount of sex-hormone binding globulin (SHBG) in the body. SHBG is a protein that binds to testosterone, preventing a woman's body from using it effectively. High levels of SHBG have been directly linked to decreased libido and sexual desire. I haven't searched for articles linking this to decreased strength or athleticism in female athletes. That would be interesting to know.

In January 2006, a new study was released illustrating possible long-term effects of the birth control pill on the female libido. Published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, this study finds that women using the birth control pill showed markedly-decreased levels of sexual desire than those women who do not use the birth control pill. It also found that women who had discontinued use of the pill continued to suffer side effects in the long-term.


#6

Another anecdotal story - I know someone who within the first year of BC use developed small benign tumors on her cervix and vagina, libido markedly decreased, melasma (dark pigment) on her face, and weight gain. Pertinent to the OP, she also had decreased energy levels on the pill. She feels that her hormonal balance and metabolism has never fully recovered.

I suspect it's fairly common for young women to go on the pill about the time they become sexually active. Then they experience a decrease in libido, as the effects of the SBHG renders their Testosterone ineffective. They assume it's just because the novelty/curiosity about sex is over. Been there, done that - honeymoon is over. They don't realize that BC use might be a huge contributor to their loss of sex drive.

I was on BC for nearly 15 years when I wasn't trying to get pregnant. I didn't realize how much BC pill use was effecting me until I went off of it for good in my mid 30's. You could hypothesize that it wasn't the BC at all, I just hit my mid-30's and went through a sexual prime. Maybe. BUT it seems like quite a coincidence that it would hit me like a ton of bricks right at the time I went off the pill. I think I was inadvertently drugging myself all those years. Be careful girls. There's a percentage of women who seem very sensitive to it.


#7

Can you get her in to see an endocrinologist with expertise in sports medicine?

In my experience general medical doctors are too quick to think that lowering testosterone in women is a good idea and they don't think enough about the impact to the libido (even though she bleeds she isn't menstruating since ovulation has been suppressed and the body thinks it is pregnant) or athletic performance. It has been speculated that female athletes might be so good in part precisely because they are at the higher end of the testosterone level spectrum naturally. One wouldn't want to be too quick to mess with that...


#8

why the hell is she on it? it's not FOR EVERYONE.


#9

sigh. another case of SIDS.


#10

Thank you all for your feed back.

Addressing issues in order:

Ok so group opinion/suggestion is to remove athlete from BC. I find this super interesting because (and pardon my male unknowledgeableness(word? is now) but i have yet to encounter a female who has problems with BC. I know for some it "didnt work and still got pregnant" (because they didnt follow the instructions) or got acne or their breasts grew but I had yet to seen it cause the symptoms described by the athlete. This is all new to me.

Any tested suggestions by other women? ( I know I just F-d myself and Im going to get a flurry of innappropriate responses (swallow, anal, stomach punches) please just make sure they are original and funny :slightly_smiling:

powerpuff: thank you for input and sharing. libido took a hit only occasionally not throughtout usage of BC. like most of everything with womens emotions, it comes and goes.

Alexus/Brestruct: She took it because thats what all the kool kids were doing?? Sorry, joking, she didnt want to worry about getting preggers. The whole hormone disruption/manipulation for women is new to me. I thought no matter what a female did there was hormone disruption? (kidding but not really). Didnt think BC would play such a negative role (I know most of you are rolling your eyes and saying "you dumb male f**K!" but you have to understand that growing up around an oodle amount of females on BC no on really complained of anything except weight gain, breast gain, acne. So i didnt really bother even looking into this as an issue until recently. Sorry)

Whats SIDS?


#11

What is SIDS?


#12

I came across this article by TC on the topic of Birth Control Pills.

http://www.T-Nation.com/free_online_article/sex_news_sports_funny_grok/atomic_dog_the_death_of_female_sex_drive


#13

best non-hormonal BC is ParaGard.

she should do research before fucking with her hormones, you shouldnt be asking anyone other than an endocrinologist what to do about this.

poor education and lack of proper prior planning is what got her into this mess in the first place.

unless anyone here is a doctor, you're perpetuating the problem.

feel better now?


#14

Thank you Puff!

CBear: Um yes? Its not like I suggested she go on it in the first place. It is like THE most typical means of preventing pregnacy. OBGYNs hand that sh*t out like candy and to my knowledge without any type of serious evaluation.

I think the major problem she was having once she brought this to my attention was that for a 24 yr old who had never taking BC before the OBGYN put her on a ridiculiously high dose. Had she been given a small dose this may not have happened.

That was the extent of my research as well as chats with KSman. Even when I suggested she lower dosages OBGYN barely shaved off mg to bring her down. IMO he has miss handled this whole thing and jacked her up pretty well.

a lot of womens problems are best handled by other women. I was trying to stir up the sewing circle and get some suggestions not perscriptions. What other forms of BC were other lifting, fit women using? Has anyone else seen these type of problems? etc. I was using this as a forum to ask and review answers.

Thank you for the paragard suggestion.


#15

This is a very valid question and i think you can garner some good answers - paragard like cbear suggested is a good BC option, esp if she's not interesting in breeding for a while.

And its true that BC pills are not for EVERYONE, but they are great for the majority of the population, and a lower dosage pill might not be a bad option.

So my suggestion is to have her find a BC option that is good for her and suits her lifestyle, starting with finding an OBGYN that will help her get on a birth control plan (her dr. is male? go figure). If the pills make her feel shitty, she can try other hormonal options like NuvaRing, the patch, (i NEVER recommend this but) Depo, and my favorite being the non-hormonal IUD paragard.


#16

I use pull out and pray, but getting preggers isn't a big concern of mine right now.

I was on the pill for 10 years, and never had a single problem. No mood issues, no weight gain, no weird periods, thought I was normal.

Until I went off the pill, and remembered that I actually enjoyed sex and had a libido. The difference between me on the pill and me off the pill is HUGE. The pill keeps you from getting pregnant by making you never want to have sex!

And the worst part, is it is subtle and insidious. You don't realize your libido is dead until you go off the pill. I feel like it stole the best fuckin' years of my life.


#17

Oh god, that sounds terrible PMPM. And I'm sorry you had to deal with that (in hindsight, no less).

I work in the repro health industry as a researcher (behavioral, not clinical) and I hear what you're saying all the time - BC pills are effective in preventing pregnancy, but anecdotally, women pretty much hate them and the way the make them feel. So IME, there always been quite a disconnect b/w the efficacy of hormonal contraception and one's feelings related to them.

Its quite the conundrum really, particularly when you're working with adolescent populations who, if by chance did get pregnant, don't have the kinds of resources or support to make child rearing a positive life outcome. Which is why (at least here in NYC) docs usually err on the side of putting someone on a hormonal BC rather than none at all - and studies do show that teens fuck like rabbits regardless of what BC they use - so at least in that regard hormonal BC makes sense. lol?


#18

Amen. I thought I was a model patient. No problems...until I went off. It shocked the hell out of my husband, in a good way :wink:. We've been married for 20 years. I'm glad he's not the type to hold a grudge, but it makes me feel sad nonetheless. Things could have been better.

Back to the OP, has anyone else notice a difference in energy, athletic ability, or ability to build lean mass? I wasn't lifting weights back then so I can't compare.


#19

Honestly, let's get the "sewing circle" going -- and let's name names with the actual pills, because I suspect that the side effects differ depending on what you're on.

I was on Aviane for about a year and a half, now on Lutera (the generic version). No noticeable drop in libido, and dear God I don't know what I'd do if it were any higher. It's hard to estimate fat gain/athletic ability because I started lifting and went on the pill at the same time, so most of the changes in my body were for the better. A year in I did SUDDENLY get bigger breasts, which I'm guessing is due to the pill. Went up a cup size.

Frankly, I cannot afford to have a child, and I don't really want to be celibate. Not going off birth control any time soon.


#20

Ortho Tri Cyclen to start, then Levora for about 7 of the 10.