Oral contraception does not alter typical post-exercise interleukin-6 and hepcidin levels in females

J Sci Med Sport. 2015 Jan;18(1):8-12. doi: 10.1016/j.jsams.2013.11.008. Epub 2013 Nov 28.


Objectives: The post-exercise interleukin-6 (IL-6) and hepcidin response was investigated during the hormone-deplete and hormone-replete phases of an estradiol and progestogen regulated oral contraceptive cycle (OCC).

Design: Counterbalanced, repeated measures cross-over study.

Methods: Ten active female monophasic oral contraceptive pill (OCP) users completed two 40 min treadmill running trials at 75% of their pre-determined peak oxygen uptake velocity (vVO2peak). These trials were randomly performed in two specific phases of the OCC: (a) Day 2-4, representing a hormone-free withdrawal period (D-0); (b) Day 12-14, representing the end of the first week of active hormone therapy (D+7). Venous blood samples were drawn pre-, post- and 3h post-exercise.

Results: In both trials, serum IL-6 was significantly elevated (p<0.05) immediately post-exercise, while serum hepcidin was significantly elevated (p<0.05) 3h post-exercise, with no significant differences recorded between trials.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that exercise performed during the different phases (D-0 vs. D+7) of a monophasic OCP regulated cycle does not alter exercise induced IL-6 or hepcidin production. As such, future studies looking to investigate similar variables post-exercise, may not need to 'control' for different phases of the OCC, provided participants are current monophasic OCP users.

Keywords: Iron deficiency; Oestrogen; Progesterone; Running.

Publication types

  • Clinical Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Contraceptives, Oral / pharmacology*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Estrogens / pharmacology*
  • Exercise Test
  • Female
  • Hepcidins / blood*
  • Hepcidins / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-6 / blood*
  • Progesterone / pharmacology*
  • Random Allocation
  • Running / physiology*
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult


  • Contraceptives, Oral
  • Estrogens
  • Hepcidins
  • Interleukin-6
  • Progesterone