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  1. #1
    Registered User AthornG's Avatar
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    Question PCOS, testosterone and lifting...

    Hey,

    I've recently started lifting, in the last few weeks, as I want to gain lean muscle mass and I've become completely addicted.

    Now, I obviously know that women DO NOT have the biochemistry to naturally become too bulky, like a guy, without using extra testosterone or steroids.

    My question is...I have PCOS which causes increased testosterone levels in the body, and I wondered if this could cause me to develop a more masculine physique...or if it will still be too low to make much difference?

    Any help/advice would be appreciated!!

    Thanks

    Gem
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    Originally Posted by AthornG View Post
    Hey,

    I've recently started lifting, in the last few weeks, as I want to gain lean muscle mass and I've become completely addicted.

    Now, I obviously know that women DO NOT have the biochemistry to naturally become too bulky, like a guy, without using extra testosterone or steroids.

    My question is...I have PCOS which causes increased testosterone levels in the body, and I wondered if this could cause me to develop a more masculine physique...or if it will still be too low to make much difference?

    Any help/advice would be appreciated!!

    Thanks

    Gem
    That's always great to hear about someone who's started working out and just loves it, good for you! I've never heard of PCOS (did a quick web search to see what you were talking about). Have you asked your doctor about this? If this disorder didn't already cause issues for you as far as the masculine physique prior to working out, then I doubt anything unusual would happen from lifting now. You can get pretty far though from a propper diet, and lifting heavy, and of course good genetics can really make progress easier. I doubt there's much to worry about, but like I said asking a doctor will get you the best info. If the PCOS increased the test levels that much I would think you'd hear about at least a few women with this taking advantage of it with bb-ing just because it would be such an advantage. Good luck!
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  3. #3
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    ^
    Hey Gem,

    I have had a few clients with PCOS and the answer to your question is 'it depends'.
    A persons response to PCOS is variable in terms of the degree of elevation of their testosterone (and free testosterone specifically), as well as other things such as your conformation/ shape, your diet, and anything else you have going on (eg: degree of insulin resistance, your oestrogen levels etc etc).

    As a *general* blanket *take with a grain of salt* statement:
    Although you will NOT "look more 'masculine'" as a result of weight training (you will not suddenly turn into Ronnie Coleman if you pick up a dumbbell). IF your training/ diet are geared toward muscle gain then you will *usually* be able to build muscle more readily than other females who have normal testosterone (which isn't saying much - because normal females can't build muscle to save their lives ).

    BUT: IF you are still eating at a deficit/if your diet is inadequate, and if your training is not correct - you'll still not gain much muscle (but, once again, may be able to build more than the average female doing the same).

    Also -> building muscle more quickly is a GOOD thing.... Why? --> it is going to help you a STACK. As well as helping to improve how you look, and making you stronger, protecting your bones, and generally increasing your overall wellbeing... More muscle will also aid in correcting the insulin resistance aspect of the PCOS <-- which is going to benefit your health AND any weight loss goals you have too.

    Another benefit of the testosterone is that you will also have faster recovery, be able to tolerate more volume in your training, and you will also be able to drop fat faster*... [* = depending on your insulin resistance - which is another issue associated with PCOS].

    My advice would just be to get in there and start! IF you get 'too bulky' - then stop/ pull back.
    Hope that answered things?
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  4. #4
    Registered User AthornG's Avatar
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    Smile

    Originally Posted by Emma-Leigh View Post
    ^
    Hey Gem,

    I have had a few clients with PCOS and the answer to your question is 'it depends'.
    A persons response to PCOS is variable in terms of the degree of elevation of their testosterone (and free testosterone specifically), as well as other things such as your conformation/ shape, your diet, and anything else you have going on (eg: degree of insulin resistance, your oestrogen levels etc etc).

    As a *general* blanket *take with a grain of salt* statement:
    Although you will NOT "look more 'masculine'" as a result of weight training (you will not suddenly turn into Ronnie Coleman if you pick up a dumbbell). IF your training/ diet are geared toward muscle gain then you will *usually* be able to build muscle more readily than other females who have normal testosterone (which isn't saying much - because normal females can't build muscle to save their lives ).

    BUT: IF you are still eating at a deficit/if your diet is inadequate, and if your training is not correct - you'll still not gain much muscle (but, once again, may be able to build more than the average female doing the same).

    Also -> building muscle more quickly is a GOOD thing.... Why? --> it is going to help you a STACK. As well as helping to improve how you look, and making you stronger, protecting your bones, and generally increasing your overall wellbeing... More muscle will also aid in correcting the insulin resistance aspect of the PCOS <-- which is going to benefit your health AND any weight loss goals you have too.

    Another benefit of the testosterone is that you will also have faster recovery, be able to tolerate more volume in your training, and you will also be able to drop fat faster*... [* = depending on your insulin resistance - which is another issue associated with PCOS].

    My advice would just be to get in there and start! IF you get 'too bulky' - then stop/ pull back.
    Hope that answered things?
    Hey Emma-Leigh,

    Thanks so much for this, you've really helped!!

    I certainly don't have any complaints about gaining muscle more quickly than other women, I was just worried about the masculine physique.

    I've managed, through low GI diet and circuit training, to drop all the weight I want to lose already (5st, which has significantly improved my PCOS symptoms), but now I want to gain muscle and get curvy and hard, rather than straight up and down with squidgy bits! lol.

    Thanks again, you've really put my mind at ease!

    New work out tomorrow...can't wait!!
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  5. #5
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    Sorry to dig this up .. but I was searching for the topic

    Originally Posted by Emma-Leigh View Post
    ^
    I have had a few clients with PCOS and the answer to your question is 'it depends'.
    A persons response to PCOS is variable in terms of the degree of elevation of their testosterone (and free testosterone specifically), as well as other things such as your conformation/ shape, your diet, and anything else you have going on (eg: degree of insulin resistance, your oestrogen levels etc etc).

    As a *general* blanket *take with a grain of salt* statement:
    Although you will NOT "look more 'masculine'" as a result of weight training (you will not suddenly turn into Ronnie Coleman if you pick up a dumbbell). IF your training/ diet are geared toward muscle gain then you will *usually* be able to build muscle more readily than other females who have normal testosterone (which isn't saying much - because normal females can't build muscle to save their lives ).

    BUT: IF you are still eating at a deficit/if your diet is inadequate, and if your training is not correct - you'll still not gain much muscle (but, once again, may be able to build more than the average female doing the same).

    Also -> building muscle more quickly is a GOOD thing.... Why? --> it is going to help you a STACK. As well as helping to improve how you look, and making you stronger, protecting your bones, and generally increasing your overall wellbeing... More muscle will also aid in correcting the insulin resistance aspect of the PCOS <-- which is going to benefit your health AND any weight loss goals you have too.

    Another benefit of the testosterone is that you will also have faster recovery, be able to tolerate more volume in your training, and you will also be able to drop fat faster*... [* = depending on your insulin resistance - which is another issue associated with PCOS].

    My advice would just be to get in there and start! IF you get 'too bulky' - then stop/ pull back.
    Hope that answered things?
    Thanks for that post, Ems
    You found a way to make PCOS sound like a good thing and thats exactly what I needed to read today..
    Right now it doesn't matter what the results will be.
    Whats more important is that you test the waters. You share the story.. you add a different aspect to your recovery..

    Leap and the net will appear..
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  6. #6
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    I know this thread is so old but maybe some other girl out there will have the same question one day so thought I'd contribute - I have pcos and my physique has not become masculine. Doc said normal average DHEA (hormone that makes testosterone) levels are in mid 200's. Mine last time I check was mid 500's I have not become bulky. Actually one perk I noticed (the only one in pcos) is that I gain muscle mass alot quicker than all my other friends who lift. When I first started working out or if I stop for a while and restart I notice a quick significant amount of muscle just w/in the first week! I know girls that workout hardcore everyday and have been doing so for much longer than me and still don't have the muscle mass I do (I notice it most in my triceps/biceps/lats since I am a bit bottom heavy muscle doesn't come through as easily in that, I hate cardio lol) Their arms don't show toned at all compared to mine even after them doing so for a year or two! So I'd say it's actually an advantage when it comes to muscle building. Hope your journey is going well and this may add a silver lining for all pcos lifters!
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    PCOS women have the advantage as mentioned above, can gain muscle/strength easier, but one downside is that women with PCOS have difficulty conceiving/infertility. So that can be very stressful for seomeone wanting to start a family.
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    Talking I build to easily!

    I also have PCOS and what everyone says that women still don't build that easy, well that does not go for me. I build very easily, much more than I would like. Even so much that when I hadn't been able to work out very hard for a year and was well enough the get back on it again I was accused for "taking" something. I have a hard time to loose though, so I stay at the same weight but get leaner when I try to cut. When my progesterone gets balanced loosing is not a problem though but I have a hard time managing my progesterone. My profile is that my oestrogen is low, progesterone way lower and testosterone way to high. I don't have cysts (since I've always worked out and been eating quite healthy, according to the endo you ususally get cysts when diet and activity is not well) but my ovaries are twice as large as normal ovaries hence I produce twice the amount of testo that normal women do and because of the insulin problem the free testo tend to get even higher. I still have a very feminine physique, but I'm much more muscular than a lot of the guys at the gym. A guy that massaged me last week said "your shoulders are like handballs" not sure if that was meant as a compliment but trying to keep my muscle mas down it was a bad one and I'm only 5 feet!!!
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    This is much more important than being puny so you don't intimidate weakling males.

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  11. #11
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    Originally Posted by JannaMaria View Post
    I also have PCOS and what everyone says that women still don't build that easy, well that does not go for me. I build very easily, much more than I would like. Even so much that when I hadn't been able to work out very hard for a year and was well enough the get back on it again I was accused for "taking" something. I have a hard time to loose though, so I stay at the same weight but get leaner when I try to cut. When my progesterone gets balanced loosing is not a problem though but I have a hard time managing my progesterone. My profile is that my oestrogen is low, progesterone way lower and testosterone way to high. I don't have cysts (since I've always worked out and been eating quite healthy, according to the endo you ususally get cysts when diet and activity is not well) but my ovaries are twice as large as normal ovaries hence I produce twice the amount of testo that normal women do and because of the insulin problem the free testo tend to get even higher. I still have a very feminine physique, but I'm much more muscular than a lot of the guys at the gym. A guy that massaged me last week said "your shoulders are like handballs" not sure if that was meant as a compliment but trying to keep my muscle mas down it was a bad one and I'm only 5 feet!!!
    Are all the guys at your gym under 5' tall? Once you get past the newbie gains you don't continue piling on slabs of muscle...it doesn't work like that at all. Even women with PCOS/higher test level numbers are nothing compared to men. Jesus christ it's not even in the same ball park.

    Can we please just kill this thread with fire because it's fukin retarded.
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    Originally Posted by kimm4 View Post
    Are all the guys at your gym under 5' tall? Once you get past the newbie gains you don't continue piling on slabs of muscle...it doesn't work like that at all. Even women with PCOS/higher test level numbers are nothing compared to men. Jesus christ it's not even in the same ball park.

    Can we please just kill this thread with fire because it's fukin retarded.
    I've been reading your replies in several treads that is about hormones in some way, since you seem to believe that hormones does not affect fat and carb oxidation or body composition I don't see a point in discussing this with you.

    No the guys are not 5", I'm very short though. And with PCOS you actually can gain ALOT more muscles, much quicker than women with a normal hormonal balance. I know this might be hard to understand for a person who believe everyone works just like they do. But we are all very differently composed, some women have a lot of fluctuations in their hormonal balance and experience different challenges or perks during different times in life. Some women build muscles as crazy and others have to struggle for months or years for every pound of muscles. Some women will experience enhanced fat oxidation on BCP because they might have PCOS and the high testo (binding to the same receptors as progesterone and oestrogen) enhances insulin resistance and adding a low level of female hormones hence improves their metabolic state. An optimal level of estrogen have also been proven to enhance fat oxidation whereas to high levels in comparison to progesterone will decrease the effect of testosterone and instead decrease fat oxidation. The endocrine system is highly delicate and have a large impact on fatmetabolism and how many calories you burn trough each day. Hormones are highly important both when it comes to mucscle growth and fat oxidation. But to get leaner or bigger you of course also need to have a energy intake that is below or above your maintenance, the maintenance level will be shifted depending on hormonal status though. If you are interested in learning more I suggest you search for "Estrogen and fat metabolism" or "PCOS and muscle growth" and you'll find quite a lot if interesting research.

    Your standard comment is that if women experience weight gain or resistance to weightless because of BCP is that they are not in a deficit, with is true ina sense. But there are alot of things that effect energy balance and how the body oxidises fat that need to be balanced before you have a reasonable chance to create a deficit. Sometimes being in a deficit for some time regulates the necessary hormones and sometimes it will make it worse. For some women BCP will make it easier to burn fat and for some harder.

    I know I don't know everything but instead of pretending to know everything I understand that I don't know everything and work trough a lot of studies and research to get a better understanding of what is actually going on in our endocrine system. Fortunately I have just found and endocrine that actually is very interested in the female body and fertility issues so I feel less alone.

    I don't want to be rude to you, I just want to help women that have the same hormonal issues I do. I've been trough alot of the frustration, fear, hopelessness and progress they might experience and I'd hate for them to feel as discouraged as I did for years and years due to the kind of information that lack half of the truth that you are spreading. This is a real thing, that have been scientifically proved affecting about 5-10% of women in one way or the other. Since have not yet been able to say exactly what induces PCOS but it's been able to prove that it is thighly connected to imbalance in how the body handle insulin, it's genetic in some way but exactly what gene snippets that are involved and how it yet to be discovered. Some women have issues with the insulin from birth and don't get a period at all in their teens or later. Some women seem to get the condition due to a bad diet that have induced insulin resistance and in that case they will also be able to reverse the condition by increasing insulin sensitivity, increasing insulin sensitivity is always important but for PCOS type one it usually doesn't solve the problem, you will usually still have low estrogen, low progesterone and high testosterone cause the insulin resistance will still be underlying.

    This is why some women actually loose weight on a progesterone only pill, cause the synthetic progesterone binds harder to the progesterone receptors (we are usually also resistant to the low levels of progesterone we have) and the progesterone can actually be utilised better by our body. Once stopping the BCP later on you have usually sensitised the receptors enough for the normal hormones to work for a while, but since they are too low the sensitivity in the receptors will most likely drop again. Hence some women will benefit from circling progesterone only bcp 6 months on/of or 1 year on/6months of. Working with a good end is usually the best way to go about.

    I would suggest anyone who have never been on BCP to check their levels before the start the pill.

    I have quite a lot of knowledge about hormones, however there are so much more to learn. But one thing is for sure, there is not one size fits all, neither when it comes to diet, calories, BCP's etc so giving generic advice and shaming the one asking if the generic way don't work is not a way to go about it. That is simply very much a lack of understanding.
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    Hormones are one of those tricky things. Varies in each person really so I suspect this debate will continue. Well at least concrete evidence comes out. However I know little on what is discussed in the thread.
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    Originally Posted by kimm4 View Post
    Are all the guys at your gym under 5' tall? Once you get past the newbie gains you don't continue piling on slabs of muscle...it doesn't work like that at all. Even women with PCOS/higher test level numbers are nothing compared to men. Jesus christ it's not even in the same ball park.

    Can we please just kill this thread with fire because it's fukin retarded.
    I think our understanding of how muscle building capability works is in its infancy. There's a lot of myths being dispelled as the science and studies improve. There's new research coming out that says even among men testosterone levels don't influence ability to build muscle unless they are outside of normal ranges.

    I don't have PCOS, I don't take any drugs, and I build muscle very easily. There are men who struggle to build muscle. There are women who build it easily. There are men who build muscle easily and women who can't put it on at all. I've come to the conclusion that individual genetics and lifestyle habits are a much bigger factor here. I don't think women use testosterone to build muscle the same way men do. There are other hormones at play such as growth hormone, IGF-1, and even *gasp* estrogen! Now they're saying estrogen encourages protein synthesis, promotes recovery, and even helps prevent catabolism of muscle tissue when leaning out. Seems that there's a lot for us to learn as the bodybuilding and STEM communities continue to grow and share knowledge.
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    If you are diagnosed with ANY endocrine issues you need to get regular labs for many reasons. Then you can and have the option to adjust as necessary. Hormones are not something you just guess at.
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    Originally Posted by JannaMaria View Post
    I have just found and endocrine that actually is very interested in the female body and fertility issues so I feel less alone.

    I don't want to be rude to you, I just want to help women that have the same hormonal issues I do. I've been trough alot of the frustration, fear, hopelessness and progress they might experience and I'd hate for them to feel as discouraged as I did for years and years due to the kind of information that lack half of the truth that you are spreading. This is a real thing, that have been scientifically proved affecting about 5-10% of women in one way or the other. Since have not yet been able to say exactly what induces PCOS but it's been able to prove that it is thighly connected to imbalance in how the body handle insulin, it's genetic in some way but exactly what gene snippets that are involved and how it yet to be discovered. Some women have issues with the insulin from birth and don't get a period at all in their teens or later. Some women seem to get the condition due to a bad diet that have induced insulin resistance and in that case they will also be able to reverse the condition by increasing insulin sensitivity, increasing insulin sensitivity is always important but for PCOS type one it usually doesn't solve the problem, you will usually still have low estrogen, low progesterone and high testosterone cause the insulin resistance will still be underlying.

    This is why some women actually loose weight on a progesterone only pill, cause the synthetic progesterone binds harder to the progesterone receptors (we are usually also resistant to the low levels of progesterone we have) and the progesterone can actually be utilised better by our body. Once stopping the BCP later on you have usually sensitised the receptors enough for the normal hormones to work for a while, but since they are too low the sensitivity in the receptors will most likely drop again. Hence some women will benefit from circling progesterone only bcp 6 months on/of or 1 year on/6months of. Working with a good end is usually the best way to go about.

    I would suggest anyone who have never been on BCP to check their levels before the start the pill.

    I have quite a lot of knowledge about hormones, however there are so much more to learn. But one thing is for sure, there is not one size fits all, neither when it comes to diet, calories, BCP's etc so giving generic advice and shaming the one asking if the generic way don't work is not a way to go about it. That is simply very much a lack of understanding.
    This was very informative, thank you for sharing. I have PCOS and had an easy time gaining muscle as a teen (competed in junior powerlifting). Sadly I also gain fat very easily and have an incredibly hard time loosing after each pregnancy.
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