Oral contraceptive pill use and the susceptibility to markers of exercise-induced muscle damage

Kirsty Hicks, Gladys Onambele-Pearson, Keith Winwood, Christopher Morse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
9 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose -Firstly, to establish whether oral contraceptive pill (OCP) users are more susceptible to muscle damage compared to non-users, and secondly, to establish whether differences can be attributed to differences in patella tendon properties. Methods - Nine female OCP users and 9 female non-users participated in the investigation. Combining dynamometry, electromyography and ultrasonography, patella tendon properties and vastus lateralis architectural properties were measured pre and during the first of 6 sets of 12 maximal voluntary eccentric knee extensions. Serum oestrogen levels were measured on the 7th day of the pill cycle and the 14th day of menstrual cycle in OCP users and non-users, respectively. Maximal voluntary isometric knee extension torque loss, creatine kinase and muscle soreness were measured 48 h pre-damage, post-damage, and 48, 96 and 168 h post-damage. Results - Oestrogen levels were significantly lower in OCP users compared to non-users (209 ± 115 and 433 ± 147 pg/ml, respectively, p = 0.004). Proposed determinants of muscle damage, patella tendon stiffness and maximal eccentric torque did not differ between OCP users and non-users. The change in creatine kinase from pre to peak was significantly higher in OCP users compared to non-users (962 ± 968 and 386 ± 474 Ul, respectively, p = 0.016). There were no other differences in markers of muscle damage. Conclusion - Although our findings suggest that, when compared to non-users, the OCP may augment the creatine kinase response following eccentric exercise, it does not increase the susceptibility to any other markers of muscle damage.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1393-1402
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology
Issue number7
Early online date11 May 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017


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