Document Type


Session Format

Graduate Research Poster (no oral presentation)

Publication Date


Faculty Advisor

Sarah Myers


Background: The use of oral contraceptives (OC) to regulate athletic performance has increased in recent years. Literature indicates as OC usage increases, feelings of well-being among those using OCs have decreased. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to determine the effect of OCs on the mental health of active females. I hypothesized that OC-users would report lower values related to well-being and higher values related to depressive symptoms compared to those using other forms of hormonal contraceptive (HC) and no contraceptive. Participants: 74 biological females, over the age of 18, that engaged in 150 minutes of exercise per week. Methods: Participants gathered through snowball sampling answered questions from the Beck’s Depression Inventory via a Qualtrics survey. SPSS was used to analyze the survey data (descriptive analysis and one-way ANOVA). Results: Hormonal contraceptive users reported higher levels of depressive symptoms compared to OC-users and non-users. A statistically significant difference was found in mental health responses between HC users and non-users. The HC group reported more irritation (F(2, 71)=[3.521], p=.035), poor self-image (F(2,71)=[4.065], p=.021), diminished sleep (F(2,71)=[6.525], p=.003), decreased appetite (F(2,71)=[3.691], p=.030), and more worried about physical health (F(2,71)=[2.726], p=.072). OC-users had an increase for only one question regarding feelings of being disappointed in themselves (F(2,71)=[3.105], p=.051). These results differ from the hypothesis, but still indicate that contraceptives may influence the mental health of athletes. Conclusion: These findings suggest that contraceptives, regardless of brand and dosage, influence the mental health of female athletes. Because many athletes use HCs to regulate performance, it is important to note that those using HCs may be at risk for a decline in their well-being. Thus, the athlete may not perform to the standard they are hoping to achieve, as optimal performance relies on both physical and mental health.



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