Cardiorespiratory Responses to Endurance Exercise Over the Menstrual Cycle and With Oral Contraceptive Use

J Strength Cond Res. 2022 Feb 1;36(2):392-399. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000003447.


Barba-Moreno, L, Cupeiro, R, Romero-Parra, N, Janse de Jonge, XA, and Peinado, AB. Cardiorespiratory Responses to Endurance Exercise Over the Menstrual Cycle and With Oral Contraceptive Use. J Strength Cond Res 36(2): 392-399, 2022-Female steroid hormone fluctuations during the menstrual cycle and exogenous hormones from oral contraceptives may have potential effects on exercise performance. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of these fluctuations on cardiorespiratory responses during steady-state exercise in women. Twenty-three healthy endurance-trained women performed 40 minutes of running at 75% of their maximal aerobic speed during different phases of the menstrual cycle (n = 15; early follicular phase, midfollicular phase, and luteal phase) or oral contraceptive cycle (n = 8; hormonal phase and nonhormonal phase). Ventilatory parameters and heart rate (HR) were measured. Data were analyzed using a mixed linear model. For the eumenorrheic group, significantly higher oxygen uptake (p = 0.049) and percentage of maximum oxygen uptake (p = 0.035) were observed during the midfollicular phase compared with the early follicular. Heart rate (p = 0.004), oxygen ventilatory equivalent (p = 0.042), carbon dioxide ventilatory equivalent (p = 0.017), and tidal volume (p = 0.024) increased during luteal phase in comparison with midfollicular. In oral contraceptive users, ventilation (p = 0.030), breathing frequency (p = 0.018), oxygen ventilatory equivalent (p = 0.032), and carbon dioxide ventilatory equivalent (p = 0.001) increased during the hormonal phase. No significant differences were found for the rest of the parameters or phases. Both the eumenorrheic group and oral contraceptive group showed a significant increase in some ventilatory parameters during luteal and hormonal phases, respectively, suggesting lower cardiorespiratory efficiency. However, the lack of clinical meaningfulness of these differences and the nondifferences of other physiological variables, indicate that the menstrual cycle had a small impact on submaximal exercise in the current study.

MeSH terms

  • Contraceptives, Oral
  • Female
  • Follicular Phase
  • Humans
  • Menstrual Cycle
  • Oxygen Consumption*
  • Oxygen*


  • Contraceptives, Oral
  • Oxygen