The acute effect of the menstrual cycle and oral contraceptive cycle on measures of body composition

Belinda M. Thompson, Heidi L. Hillebrandt, Dean V. Sculley, Laura Barba-Mareno, Xanne A. K. Janse de Jonge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Purpose: This study aimed to investigate the effect of fluctuating female hormones during the menstrual cycle (MC) and oral contraceptive (OC) cycle on different measures of body composition.

Methods: Twenty-two women with a natural MC and thirty women currently taking combined monophasic OC were assessed over three phases of the menstrual or oral contraceptive cycle. Body weight, skinfolds, bioelectric impedance analysis (BIA), ultrasound, dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA), and peripheral quantitative computed tomography (pQCT) measurements were performed to assess body composition. Urine specific gravity (USG) was measured as an indication of hydration, and serum oestradiol and progesterone were measured to confirm cycle phases.

Results: Five participants with a natural MC were excluded based on the hormone analysis. For the remaining participants, no significant changes over the MC and OC cycle were found for body weight, USG, skinfolds, BIA, ultrasound and pQCT measures. However, DXA body fat percentage and fat mass were lower in the late follicular phase compared to the mid-luteal phase of the MC, while for the OC cycle, DXA body fat percentage was higher and lean mass lower in the early hormone phase compared with the late hormone phase.

Conclusion: Our findings suggest that assessment of body fat percentage through BIA and skinfolds may be performed without considering the MC or OC cycle. Body adiposity assessment via DXA, however, may be affected by female hormone fluctuations and therefore, it may be advisable to perform repeat testing using DXA during the same phase of the MC or OC cycle.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3051-3059
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology
Volume121
Issue number11
Early online date22 Jul 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Jul 2021

Keywords

  • Female hormones
  • Body fat percentage
  • DXA
  • Skinfolds
  • BIA

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