Effects of oral contraceptive use on female sexual salivary hormones and indirect markers of muscle damage following eccentric cycling in women

  • Karen Mackay
  • Cristopher González
  • Hermann Zbinden-Foncea
  • Luis PeñaililloEmail author
Original Article



To determine the effects of oral contraceptive (OC) use on salivary concentrations of testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, and its effects on the changes in indirect markers of muscle damage following eccentric cycling in women.


10 oral contraceptive users at follicular phase (OC-FOL), 10 non-oral contraceptives users at follicular phase (NOC-FOL), and 10 non-oral contraceptives users at ovulation phase (NOC-OV) participated. Subjects performed 30 min of eccentric cycling at 90% of their maximal concentric power output (PO). Maximal voluntary isometric contraction (MVC), creatine kinase activity (CK), muscle soreness (SOR), and pain pressure threshold of vastus lateralis (PPT-VL) was assessed before, immediately after, and 24–96 h after cycling. Salivary estrogen, progesterone and testosterone concentrations were measured before, 72 and 96 h after exercise.


No difference in estrogen levels between users and non-users was observed. Testosterone was 45% lower in OC-FOL than NOC-FOL at 96 h post-exercise (P = 0.01). Progesterone was 30.8-fold higher in NOC-OV than OC-FOL and 9.7-fold higher than NOC-FOL at 96 h post-exercise. The NOC-FOL recovered all indirect markers of muscle damage by 72 h post-exercise (P > 0.05). NOC-OV recovered MVC strength and muscle soreness (SOR and PPT-VL) by 96 h post-exercise (P > 0.05). OC-FOL did not recover baseline values of MVC, SOR, CK, and PPT-VL by 96 h.


These results suggest that recovery after exercise-induced muscle damage took longer in OC-FOL, followed by NOC-OV and by NOC-FOL, respectively. Furthermore, testosterone and progesterone levels may affect recovery of indirect markers of muscle damage in women.


Exercise-induced muscle damage Eccentric cycling Muscle recovery Oral contraception 



One-way measures of variance


Body mass index


Creatine kinase activity


Delayed onset of muscle soreness




Ethynyl estradiol


Exercise-induced muscle damage


Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays


Follicular phase


Maximal heart rate


Fisher’s least significant difference


Maximal voluntary contraction


Oral contraceptives




Maximal concentric power output


Pain pressure threshold


Pain pressure threshold for vastus lateralis muscle


Standard deviation


Muscle soreness


Visual analogue scale


Peak oxygen consumption





This work was funded by the Institutional Research Grant awarded to K.M and L.P. by Universidad Finis Terrae (Grant no. CAI 2015).

Author contributions

LP and KM conceived and designed the research. CG, KM and LP conducted the data collection. KM and HZ performed the experiments and biochemical analyses. KM wrote the manuscript. All the authors read and approved the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

There were no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Exercise Science Laboratory, School of KinesiologyFinis Terrae UniversitySantiagoChile

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