Effects of menstrual cycle, oral contraception, and training on exercise-induced changes in circulating DHEA-sulphate and testosterone in young women

  • C. Enea
  • N. Boisseau
  • M. Ottavy
  • J. Mulliez
  • C. Millet
  • I. Ingrand
  • V. Diaz
  • B. DuguéEmail author
Original Article


The objective of this study was to ascertain the effects of menstrual cycle, oral contraception, and training status on the exercise-induced changes in circulating DHEA-sulphate and testosterone in young women. Twenty-eight healthy women were assigned to an untrained group (n = 16) or a trained group (n = 12) depending on their training background. The untrained group was composed of nine oral contraceptive users (OC+) and seven eumenorrheic women (OC−). The trained group was composed of OC+ subjects only. All the OC+ subjects were taking the same low-dose oral contraception. Three laboratory sessions were organised in a randomised order: a prolonged exercise test until exhaustion, a short-term exhaustive exercise test, and a control session. Blood specimens were collected before, during and after the exercise tests and at the same time of the day during the control session. Basal circulating testosterone was significantly lower in trained as compared to untrained subjects. In all subjects, the prolonged exhaustive exercise induced a significant increase in circulating DHEA-s and testosterone. The short-term exercise induced a significant increase in circulating DHEA-s in untrained eumenorrheic and in trained OC users only. Menstrual phases in OC− did not influence the responses. It was found that exhaustive physical exercise induced an increase in circulating DHEA-s and testosterone in young women. Oral contraception may limit short-term exercise-induced changes.


Androgens Biological factors Exercise Female physiology Steroids 



This research was supported by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) (grant no 05D17BD), the French Ministry of National Education and Research, and the French Ministry of Health and Sports The authors express their sincere thanks to the volunteers who participated in this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. Enea
    • 1
  • N. Boisseau
    • 1
  • M. Ottavy
    • 1
    • 2
  • J. Mulliez
    • 1
    • 2
  • C. Millet
    • 3
  • I. Ingrand
    • 4
  • V. Diaz
    • 1
    • 2
  • B. Dugué
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Laboratoire des Adaptations Physiologiques aux Activités Physiques (EA3813), Faculté des Sciences du SportUniversité de PoitiersPoitiersFrance
  2. 2.Service d’Exploration Fonctionnelle Respiratoire et Physiologie de l’Exercice, Pavillon BeauchantCentre Hospitalier Universitaire (CHU) de PoitiersPoitiers CedexFrance
  3. 3.Service de Médecine Nucléaire, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire (CHU) de PoitiersPoitiers CedexFrance
  4. 4.Centre d’Investigation Clinique, INSERM CIC-P 802Centre Hospitalier Universitaire (CHU), Université de PoitiersPoitiers CedexFrance

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