Birth Control and Sports

Participation in athletics does not affect birth control. Women of childbearing age should use the birth control method of their choice. As with all sexual activity, sexually transmitted diseases must be considered when athletes choose a birth control method. Only certain barrier methods provide protection against sexually transmitted diseases. Birth control pills do not. However, birth control pills can be very effective against pregnancy.

WHAT IS THE EFFECT OF EXERCISE ON BIRTH CONTROL PILLS?

An individual's athleticism does not alter the effectiveness of birth control pills. Taking birth control pills should not alter physical fitness. However, birth control pills are a medication and can have side effects. The side effects include:

  • Risk of blood clots.

  • Liver effects.

  • Cancer concerns.

  • Possible weight gain.

  • Changes and symptoms to a woman's period (menstrual cycle).

These side effects may affect athletic performance.

WHAT IS THE EFFECT OF GETTING YOUR PERIOD AND ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE?

Studies have shown that a woman's regular period does not usually affect athletic performance. However, some female athletes who experience discomfort at certain phases of their periods feel that competition is not possible. For these athletes, controlling one's period by adjusting birth control use may be helpful.

HOW CAN I CONTROL MY PERIOD BY ADJUSTING MY BIRTH CONTROL PILLS?

Birth control pills regulate the duration of a woman's period. Planning is important for women who want to compete. Women who use birth control pills may be able to postpone their period by skipping their placebo pills and moving directly on to the next set of pills. It is important to discuss changing your period cycle with your caregiver before making any changes to how you take your birth control pills.