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  1. #1
    Registered User figgith's Avatar
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    Possible hormonal changes linked to serious weight training?

    Hi everyone!

    I'm really sorry if this has already been discussed. I did search around, but the "search" facility doesn't seem to sort by group, and so all I get are hundreds of results for men.

    I was wondering if anyone noticed any (probably) hormonal changes once they started bodybuilding?

    I've exercised all my life, but always quite cardio-heavy (used to play football/soccer). I've been going to the gym for 10 years now, but only began to cut the cardio and lift heavy about 18 months ago, after I had to stop football due to bad knees. Before this, I'd never push myself to lift heavier than was comfortable. Now I'm always going for PBs, upped my protein intake a lot, eat my carbs at the right times, and so on. I've been trying to build muscle, in other words, whereas before I was indifferent and my focus was more on being toned and keeping my fitness high enough to play football well.

    Anyway, gradually, I have started to notice some undesirable changes in my body. They might be totally unrelated to my weight training (although I am 31 so hopefully nowhere near the point at which I should see dramatic hormonal changes), and that's why I'm here, to see if anyone else has experienced them.

    - The light fluff above my lip, which I've never bothered with, has become dark enough that it's actually quite visible at the sides now. Seems to be within the last 6 months or so. I don't take any hormones or steroids, I'm not on birth control, I literally add nothing artificial to my body.

    - Again only within the last 6 months or so, my breasts have shrunk. Don't groan. I'm well aware of the relationship between fat% and breast size, but the point is, my fat% has not changed in the last six months. It may have decreased slightly 12-18 months ago, but not since. My fat% was low and my breasts were tiny to begin with (34A), so a decrease in size is really noticeable to me.

    - My periods take longer to get going in earnest, so it's not unusual now to have 3 days of it sort of... starting and then stopping... before it finally starts and gets on with it. However, I do not suffer from irregular periods. Just sluggish ones, apparently.

    - I get really sad! I've always been an extremely optimistic and motivated person, but for many months now, I frequently feel very down.

    I am booked in to see my doctor (in a month's time, because that's how long it takes to get a 10 minute slot at my GP apparently), as I tried to get some hormone level tests done at a private clinic a month ago and was told I need a GP referral. But in the meantime, I just wondered if anyone else had experienced any of these symptoms? I mean, when we lift heavy and eat the way we do, we're trying to stimulate growth hormone (as just one example), right? That must do other things besides grow muscle. Even as a natural bodybuilder, you're still looking for every edge, every way to capitalise or boost the presence of certain things over others. This must affect the hormonal balance of our bodies in some way.

    I am aware of conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome, I find it unlikely that I would have a condition like this (no weight gain, no irregular periods), and I'm not here for medical advice (as mentioned, already booked in to see my GP, so don't need to be advised to do this). Just want to know if anyone else has experienced this at all with their training.

    Thanks!
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  2. #2
    Registered User sonti's Avatar
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    Not at all have I ever experienced this, nor has any other women I know who do natural lifting (and not really from the girls who use either), best to wait out your doctor's appointment Sorry.
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  3. #3
    Registered User figgith's Avatar
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    Ok - thanks for replying!
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    I can't think of any physiological reason why weight training would change your hormones. I know fat can secrete some hormones so decreasing fat may influence hormones. Also getting to very low body fat levels changes your hormones. But other than that, the act of lifting weights doesn't do anything to your hormones.
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  5. #5
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    nope
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    Weightlifting is very stressful on the body. Too much or chronic stress can throw off a woman's hormones and trigger/worsen many ailments. What symptoms appear depend on what's affected.

    I have not experienced your symptoms. When cutting or doing other strenuous activities though, I must lower weights to avoid insomnia. Lifting puts so much stress on my body that adding another stressor without compensating disrupts the circadian rhythm of my melatonin neurohormone. Wouldn't surprise me if it throws off some other hormones too.

    I don't know if your symptoms listed here are stress related, but they certainly could be. Not all PCOS sufferers gain weight or have irregular periods (at least initially). With this ailment, the woman's body is not ovulating. Too much or chronic stress can certainly create the conditions for that.
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    Originally Posted by figgith View Post
    Hi everyone!

    I'm really sorry if this has already been discussed. I did search around, but the "search" facility doesn't seem to sort by group, and so all I get are hundreds of results for men.

    I was wondering if anyone noticed any (probably) hormonal changes once they started bodybuilding?

    I've exercised all my life, but always quite cardio-heavy (used to play football/soccer). I've been going to the gym for 10 years now, but only began to cut the cardio and lift heavy about 18 months ago, after I had to stop football due to bad knees. Before this, I'd never push myself to lift heavier than was comfortable. Now I'm always going for PBs, upped my protein intake a lot, eat my carbs at the right times, and so on. I've been trying to build muscle, in other words, whereas before I was indifferent and my focus was more on being toned and keeping my fitness high enough to play football well.

    Anyway, gradually, I have started to notice some undesirable changes in my body. They might be totally unrelated to my weight training (although I am 31 so hopefully nowhere near the point at which I should see dramatic hormonal changes), and that's why I'm here, to see if anyone else has experienced them.

    - The light fluff above my lip, which I've never bothered with, has become dark enough that it's actually quite visible at the sides now. Seems to be within the last 6 months or so. I don't take any hormones or steroids, I'm not on birth control, I literally add nothing artificial to my body.

    - Again only within the last 6 months or so, my breasts have shrunk. Don't groan. I'm well aware of the relationship between fat% and breast size, but the point is, my fat% has not changed in the last six months. It may have decreased slightly 12-18 months ago, but not since. My fat% was low and my breasts were tiny to begin with (34A), so a decrease in size is really noticeable to me.

    - My periods take longer to get going in earnest, so it's not unusual now to have 3 days of it sort of... starting and then stopping... before it finally starts and gets on with it. However, I do not suffer from irregular periods. Just sluggish ones, apparently.

    - I get really sad! I've always been an extremely optimistic and motivated person, but for many months now, I frequently feel very down.

    I am booked in to see my doctor (in a month's time, because that's how long it takes to get a 10 minute slot at my GP apparently), as I tried to get some hormone level tests done at a private clinic a month ago and was told I need a GP referral. But in the meantime, I just wondered if anyone else had experienced any of these symptoms? I mean, when we lift heavy and eat the way we do, we're trying to stimulate growth hormone (as just one example), right? That must do other things besides grow muscle. Even as a natural bodybuilder, you're still looking for every edge, every way to capitalise or boost the presence of certain things over others. This must affect the hormonal balance of our bodies in some way.

    I am aware of conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome, I find it unlikely that I would have a condition like this (no weight gain, no irregular periods), and I'm not here for medical advice (as mentioned, already booked in to see my GP, so don't need to be advised to do this). Just want to know if anyone else has experienced this at all with their training.

    Thanks!
    a lot of your symptoms sound like PCOS - i have it myself. not all PCOS diagnosed individuals encounter weight gain/irregular periods and you don't need to experience weight gain or irregular periods to have PCOS. i would see what your doctor has to say, but i wouldn't completely rule it out.
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  8. #8
    Registered User adriannec's Avatar
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    I'm no medical expert but lean PCOS was my first thought as I read your email. It's not weight lifting related but it's a form of PCOS that has some of the symptoms of the "regular" kind like acne, facial hair, etc but not all like the higher bodyfat. I'd definitely look into hormonal testing to get a diagnosis as there are other endocrinological things it could be. Good luck!
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  9. #9
    Registered User TrampasaursFlex's Avatar
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    It's not uncommon for women to experience a hormonal shift in their 30s, although this is a function of age, not the lifting. Many women begin perimenopause (basically pre-menopause) in their 30s or even earlier. A change in your menstrual cycle, mood swings, etc are all symptoms of this. I've had similar issues, although they all started prior to my lifting.
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