FTP #36: Kirsty Elliott-Sale & Eimear Dolan – The Female cyclist series (Part 2): oral contraceptives and exercise performance

FTP #35: Kelly McNulty & Kirsty Elliott-Sale – The Female cyclist series: Menstrual cycle and endurance exercise performance
September 28, 2020

FTP #36: Kirsty Elliott-Sale & Eimear Dolan – The Female cyclist series (Part 2): oral contraceptives and exercise performance


Episode resources:

Link to the research

Dr Elliott-Sale completed her undergraduate degree and PhD at Liverpool John Moores University. She worked as a Lecturer at Brunel University and the University of Brighton before undertaking a four-year Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship at Kings College London. Dr Elliott-Sale joined NTU in September 2009 as a Senior Lecturer on a part-time basis; since then she has been promoted to Associate Professor and now works full-time.
She is also the Head of the Musculoskeletal Physiology Research Group and the Postgraduate Research Tutor for the School of Science and Technology. She is also responsible for teaching on the undergraduate and postgraduate Sport Science degree programmes. Dr Elliott-Sale is the Module Leader for the “Sport Project and Dissertation” module. Dr Elliott-Sale teaches mainly in the areas of Exercise Physiology and particularly in Female Physiology, Performance, and Health.
She has more than 20 years of experience working predominately with females, particularly with elite female athletes and maternal populations (e.g., postpartum women). She has an international reputation in female endocrinology and musculoskeletal physiology, as well as expertise in exercise physiology with specific regards to the design and implementation of exercise-based interventions. She has extensive experience in running research projects in sporting, clinical and academic environments.

Since the completion of her PhD, which examined the effects of female reproductive hormones on muscle strength, her research has concentrated on various aspects of health and athletic performance in female populations.

Eimear Dolan, PhD.
Twitter Researchgate profile

Eimear completed her undergraduate and postgraduate studies in sport and exercise science in Dublin City University, Ireland. She then worked as a Sports Nutrition lecturer in the Robert Gordon University, Scotland, before moving to Brazil to do a postdoctoral research project. Currently, she is a member of the Applied Physiology and Nutrition Research Group of the University of São Paulo, and leads a research program investigating how exercise and nutrition influence bone, which is funded by the Sao Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP). Her research interests include pH regulation and high-intensity exercise performance (including the use of buffering supplements such as beta-alanine); the influence of low energy availability on health and performance, and bone metabolism. 


On this episode:

  • How can oral contraceptive pills (OCPs) influence exercise performance?
  • Prevalence of OCP use among athletes
  • Reasons beyond birth control…
  • Methodological issues regarding this meta-analysis
  • OCP users Vs. naturally menstruating women & OCP taking days Vs. OCP withdrawal
  • Marrying scientific evidence with practice
  • Limitations in the current research
  • Future directions


Articles mentioned during the episode:

Elliott-Sale, K. J., McNulty, K. L., Ansdell, P., Goodall, S., Hicks, K. M., Thomas, K., … & Dolan, E. (2020). The Effects of Oral Contraceptives on Exercise Performance in Women: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis.Sports Medicine, 1-28.

McNulty, K. L., Elliott-Sale, K. J., Dolan, E., Swinton, P. A., Ansdell, P., Goodall, S., … & Hicks, K. M. (2020). The effects of menstrual cycle phase on exercise performance in eumenorrheic women: a systematic review and meta-analysisSports Medicine, 1-15.

Martin, D., Sale, C., Cooper, S. B., & Elliott-Sale, K. J. (2018). Period prevalence and perceived side effects of hormonal contraceptive use and the menstrual cycle in elite athletesInternational journal of sports physiology and performance13(7), 926-932.

Link for the ISENC20 scientific program

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