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a question for the women(7 posts)

a question for the womenjust starting out
Feb 1, 2002 3:59 PM
Does anyone have any suggestions -- or is it all men on this list :)

My doctor has asked me to take birth control pills because I haven't had a period for 10 months and my estrogen levels are low (osteoporosis concerns). Seems to be a result of training -- they've done tests and I have no signs of health problems. The issue: the pills make me gain weight and I get very moody when I'm taking them (even with a very low dosage pill). Whether it's just mental or not, I feel like this adversely affects my cycling. I do want to protect my bones though, and am wondering if anyone else has run into this problem? Any creative solutions? I took dong quai for a while hoping that would help to kick start my hormones but it didn't...
bone density test?Dog
Feb 1, 2002 4:05 PM
If your bones are the real concern, can't they do a bone density test? If you're ok, then no problem. Maybe just monitor from time to time.

sounds like...Geof
Feb 1, 2002 4:31 PM
Overtraining. As a trainer, one of the things I look for in female athletes is a long term skipped period. This is usually an indicator of bodyfat being too low and/or overtraining. In bodybuilders and fitness competitors it goes with the territory, however there is always an attempt made to increase bodyfat (2-6%>) to get them into about a 12-15% range after competing. This is still considered low for "normal" females but usually brings back the normal cycle and a stronger physique. Thus more ability to adapt to new training loads. If your bodyfat is not that low, then you need to really look at your training and your diet. These are the BIGGEST issues facing female atheletes (any athelete really). If these two are not closely watched in the female athelete, she potentially suffers greater negative hormonal, metabolic effects.

My suggestion is to do what ever it takes to get your normal cycle on track. If you gain a bit of weight, you'll most likely be more robust and stronger with more recovery capability. You need to look at your REAL performance not what you THINK you can/should do. You body is telling you something... listen to it or it will bring you down BIG TIME...

Good luck
re: a question for the womendsc
Feb 1, 2002 4:50 PM
Hmmm, amenorrhea (skipped menstrual periods) has definitely been linked to lower bone density, but the biggest risk factor of skipped periods in the first place (for athletes) is caused by poor diet and/or not taking in enough calories for your training load.

I recently finished a 12 month run of birth control pills that my doctor perscribed as a preventative measure against certain types of cancers that run in my family. Fortunately, I didn't experiece the weight gain problem, but I do agree that they can whack out your emotions at times!

Dog's idea of a bone density test is a good one. See if you're experiencing any problems now, and examine your diet.
One other suggestion I have is to incorporate some load-bearing exercise into your training routine, such as weight lifting. This type of exercise (load-bearing) will strengthen your bones- something that cycling alone, unfortunately, will not.

Good luck.

I am not a woman, and I am not a doctor. But . . .morrison
Feb 1, 2002 5:44 PM
my sister in law went through a similar episode several years ago. SHe was (and is) an aggressive runner who went 18 months without a period. Her doctors repeatedly advised her to go on the pill, and she repeatedly balked for the same reasons you have suggested.

Ultimately, she was convinced, and she did gain some weight. She gradually allowed her body fat to increase, and ultimately found that, while she was heavier, she had quite a bit more energy and stamina.

Last year, she started trying to get pregnant. Still waiting. She doesn't know, but suspects, that there is a connection. Something worth considering.

I would recommend finding an OB-GYN who is (a) female, and (b) an endurance athlete (runner, cyclist, triathlete (sp?) who will be sympathetic to, and knowledgeable about, your concerns.

Good luck!
re: a question for the womenShannon
Feb 1, 2002 6:05 PM
How long were you on the pill before? Our bodies need to adjust to the new hormones. So when we start birth control, we will go through a period where we are on an emotional elevator and we may gain weight, but after our bodies adjust, our mood swings and weight should adjust back to normal. This is what my ob/gyn explained to me when I started birth control. And its true, I've been on it for a few years now and I don't notice any more mood swings or weight gain.
re: a question for the womenjust starting out
Feb 1, 2002 9:17 PM
Thank you all for your input. I think I will talk to a nutritionist and/or try to have more patience during the initial time on the pill. It's an interesting problem since my body weight (and body fat) is quite normal (5' 7" and 125-130 lbs). And, my caloric intake (2000-2500 per day) seems about right for the 150-200 miles a week that I ride ... might be more about the type of food I'm eating than the amount.