Is Your Birth Control Messing with Your Training?

Women in strength sports don’t have a lot of resources for managing their physiology. Snatch Magazine is on a mission to open up lines of communication with its followers to openly discuss topics that don’t seem to be covered in other spaces. These discussions are typically hosted on Sundays in the stories feature. This particular conversation was prompted as follows: Does/Did Birth Control F*** with Your Training? If so, how?

I myself had issues with my training while on birth control, many of the side effects I did not notice until I went off of it. I asked this question to the community because I wanted to know if any of my peers in the sport had shared experiences. It turns out that many do. While the vast majority agreed that they had negative mental and physical side effects from their hormonal birth control, many also reported that their training wouldn’t be possible without the use of birth control to manage some of their other symptoms. There are all sorts of things that birth control can help, such as managing PCOS or acne, but there are a lot of accounts of lethargy and water retention that are important for the women of strength sports to know!

Please note that this is simply an account of self-reported feedback. If you’re experiencing some of the side effects you see here, talk with your doctor about alternative options for your birth control.

EXHAUSTION AND MENTAL REACTIONS

I switched to the Nexplanon from a combo pill in August. It made me feel so exhausted.

I struggled to make it to the gym, and if I did, I relied on pre-workouts, which I had never done.

I’m on the triphasic pill. It definitely makes me more lethargic and I retain more water.

I noticed my recovery time increased a ton and I didn’t have the same “umph” in training while on the pill.

I absolutely was struggling. My pharmacist didn’t listen to me, my doctor didn’t listen to me.

No mental clarity and depression was 10x worse. Came off 6 months ago!

My birth control made me very lethargic, I was like a whole new person, and that had a big impact on my motivation.

I found out mine gave me anxiety which meant my first (maybe only) competition I was in tears.

My mental health took a blow which in turn hurt my training, everything sucked and I hated it.

I didn’t realize how stunted my mood was on birth control until I went off. I got a bunch of PRs when I went off, but now I’m (intentionally) pregnant and that’s impacted training way more.

It hurt for sure! All sorts of bad side effects from depo shot and worse detox going off it!

PHYSICAL REACTIONS

I was on it for ~10 years and came off it a year ago, I swear it made me come out of a plateau.

I used to have an IUD and it would stab me when I power cleaned!

When on the pill I felt bloated and tired all the time.

Sensitive boobs and power cleans don’t make for fun training sessions.

Endurance and strength were crap while on the pill. I’ve been off the pill for almost 2 years now.

My pills made it so hard to put on muscle. Switched to an IUD and my gains are nuts in comparison.

I have an IUD, but I’m not sure I think it’s just a coincidence that I stopped seriously training around the time I got it.

It makes my hormones go crazy and right before my period comes I get weaker and can’t get anything done.

Birth control f’ed with my whole life and gave me insane hormonal abnormalities.

I took it back when I was a distance runner, but I felt AWFUL and like my legs wouldn’t work.

UGHHHHHH so emotional on my Mirena. Sometimes I don’t want to move. No periods, but I get really bad cramps.

Depo shot f***’d my mental while training. I gained 10kg and my depression worsened. And no one told me my hair would fall out as a side effect?? It was the worst.

Took Yaz for a year. Found out I had a DVT clot in my leg at 21. Out for 3 months :(

Olympic hopeful Megan Henry who collapsed with blood clots after using NuvaRing nearly lost her life and athletic career.

I tried to make the switch off hormones a couple years ago and got a copper IUD. MY uterus ended up expelling TWO of them.

I had a really difficult time losing weight, then I had a hard time gaining muscle.

I felt shitty. Going off hormonal birth control was the best decision I made for my training and for me.

I used to be on the NuvaRing but would squeeze it out when really bracing my core. Switched to IUD.

SUCCESS STORIES

I’m not in it anymore, but when I was I never had issues. Although at the time I was running Ultras.

I’ve trained on/off Nuva Ring and never noticed any differences in training.

I’ve had an IUD since 2015. Never had an issue.

Couldn’t train without it. It’s the only thing that manages my PCOS effectively.

I’ve had a non-hormonal IUD for 5 years with no issues.

On a low dose pill. I wouldn’t be able to function OR train without it. Changed my life.

IUD is the best way to go! Zero problems for me!

I use the Nexplanon and I absolutely love it! It definitely hasn’t hurt my training at all.

It’s the only thing that manages my PCOS. When I went off it I gained 10lbs and couldn’t lift.

Before I had an IUD I’d get periods so bad I would throw up. Now I get consistency in training with the IUD.

It’s never really had an impact on me. I retain water weight in PMS but that happens on or off.

I use a pill with 2 active hormones in 5 different dosages, but without it I can’t function!