This study came out last week. I may be overstating it a bit to call it explosive, but I think it could spark a big change in what type of contraceptives women use.
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Young women who use oral contraceptives (OC) may not get as much out of their weight-lifting routine as women who are not on the pill, according to a study released today, which suggests that OC use impairs muscle gains from resistance exercise training in women.
“The factors that explain the differences in the magnitude of the responses to resistance exercise training between individuals are largely unknown,” Chang-Woock Lee, from Texas A&M University in College Station, told Reuters Health.
“The present study is meaningful in that we have identified a potential new factor that may be independently associated with the characteristics and variability of muscle responses to a controlled resistance exercise training program,” the researcher added.
In the study, 73 generally healthy women between 18 and 31 years old participated in whole-body resistance exercises three times per week for 10 weeks. Thirty-four of the women used oral contraceptives and 39 did not. The women were encouraged to eat enough protein to promote muscle growth.
In the article, which I highly recommend, they posit that women taking the pill may not have enough testosterone to build muscle.
Why do I think this is explosive? The pill is most popular with young women. Young women are more likely to care about their appearance and weight in such a way that they would be reluctant to use the pill as their contraceptive if it negatively impacts their workout routine. Think I am painting a vain and petty portrait of young women? Perhaps.
But given that the pill is advertised to women in such a variety of petty ways, the advertising companies at least believe women would make their contraceptive choices on even flimsier grounds. Like the pill that will help with acne. Or the pill that you take once a month. Or every two months. Or every two weeks. Or every year. How about patch? Or a ring? Or an implant under your arm? It’s just so dang difficult to take a pill everyday. The pharmaceutical companies have taken one drug and turned it into a million different varieties of the same thing thereby creating multiple patents.
Will this lead to an increase in non-oral contraceptives? More children? More abortions? I think it’s too soon to tell, but I’m interested in following this.