Effects of oral contraceptives on hormonal and metabolic responses during exercise


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Abstract

BEMBEN, D. A., R. A. BOILEAU, J. M. BAHR, R. A. NELSON, and J. E. MISNER. Effects of oral contraceptives on hormonal and metabolic responses during exercise. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 24, No. 2, pp. 434–441, 1992. This study examined the influence of oral contraceptives (OC) on GH and PRL responses and on energy substrate utilization during prolonged submaximal exercise in moderately active women (21–30 yr). Eight women taking OC (OC) and eight women with normal menstrual cycles (C) performed a standardized treadmill test of 90 min at 50% maximal oxygen uptake. Blood samples were withdrawn from an indwelling venous catheter during a 2-h rest period, at 10-min intervals during exercise and at 3 and 15 min of recovery. Serum concentrations of glucose, GH, PRL, E2, and P4 were assayed. Carbohydrate and fat utilization were estimated from respiratory exchange ratios. Basal serum levels of GH, PRL, and glucose were not significantly different (P > 0.05) between OC and C. OC had significantly higher (P < 0.05) serum GH levels than C at 10 and 20 min of exercise, but the integrated areas for GH responses were not different (P = 0.059). Serum PRL levels significantly decreased (P < 0.05) during exercise, and PRL responses were similar for the two groups. OC exhibited significantly lower blood glucose levels (P < 0.05) during exercise and utilized significantly lower total grams of carbohydrate (P < 0.05) during exercise than C. In conclusion, OC use was associated with enhanced GH responses, lower glucose levels, and diminished carbohydrate utilization during prolonged exercise. These results indicated that OC users demonstrated a greater carbohydrate-sparing ability than eumenorrheic women, which may be related to the contra-insulin effects of GH. The lower blood glucose levels, however, suggest the sparing of carbohydrate may act to compensate for decreased hepatic glucose output, similar to animal data.

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