Why do some women gain weight after starting the pill, and why are others not affected? Is it really just the pill that has an impact, or are there other factors?
The hormonal contraceptive pill is one of the most widely used pharmaceutical products worldwide. If you’re thinking of using it, you’re probably wondering if it impacts your progress. After all, it’s a potent source of estrogen, and an important component in many women’s lives due to the many advantages it has over a coil.
It’s a common misconception that birth control pills and other hormonal methods of contraception will leave you flat-chested, lose your appetite, or make your belly fat stay in your midsection. While these side effects may occur in some women, they are more than offset by the benefits of birth control. Hormonal birth control can help prevent many common types of cancer, decrease your risk of heart disease, and improve your mood and general wellbeing. Some women even find that their sex drive is restored after starting birth control.
In the world of Figure Athletes, birth control is a big issue. So, what really is the situation? Is it affecting progress or not? As is customary, the solution is not simple. Indeed, my standard answer is the dreaded, “It depends.”
Problems with prescriptions
Many women between the ages of 18 and 30 do utilize oral, indictable, or topical birth control today. Surprisingly, hormone medications aren’t usually utilized to prevent unintended pregnancies. In fact, adolescent girls are increasingly being prescribed birth control medications to help manage menstruation. Some are even put on the pill to assist with acne management!
While hormonal treatments are often successful on all counts (preventing unplanned pregnancy, regulating menstruation, and controlling acne), they are not without danger. Long-term usage of birth control hormones, for example, has been linked to an increased risk of cervical, liver, and breast cancer. This isn’t good.
However, birth control hormones may cause an increase in body fat, particularly in the lower body and upper arms, or difficulties shedding fat in these same regions when increasing exercise volume or lowering food consumption, which should be of interest to the beautiful women of Figure Athlete.
In relation to this final issue, I’ve worked with many female clients in the past several months who, after discontinuing birth control, had a two-month reduction in their body fat %. And this was without altering their activity or eating habits.
Both were under 15% body fat to begin with, and although they didn’t have a hard time keeping active while on the pill, they struggled tremendously when they attempted to take it up a notch to become slim. They’d regress if they made a little dietary error or skipped an exercise.
Both, on the other hand, lost weight very quickly after switching to an IUD, and have found it quite simple to jump-start progress by increasing exercise volume and cutting calories. These are, of course, only two instances, but they’re both fascinating.
Another birth control danger looms large over many young women, in addition to possible cancer risks and a potential unfavorable effect on body composition development. Birth control hormones, according to many women, may reduce sexual desire and excitement, impair sexual lubrication, and induce discomfort during sex.
That doesn’t seem like much fun, does it?
Both of the ladies described above had been on the pill since they were 16 years old. They simply thought that either sex was unpleasant or that there was something wrong with them since they weren’t sexually active at the time and the pill caused them significant sexual problems years later.
They discovered this over a decade later after they stopped taking the medication. They both now have a strong sexual appetite and an active sex life, despite earlier claiming to despise sex. It’s simply a pity it took so long for them to find out what was wrong and switch to an IUD.
Hormones will continue to be hormones.
While these tales are fascinating, there are two main issues with anecdotal evidence. For starters, for every tale about how birth control messed up your life, there’s probably one about how you didn’t notice anything. There are probably an equal amount of tales about how “the medication saved my life.”
So, what really is the situation? The birth control hormones, after all, are just that: hormones. They’re made to have a significant impact on your physiology.
Consider that for a moment.
You’re chemically inhibiting one of your body’s primary processes by taking the pill, patch, or other medication. And you’re doing it by tinkering with your hormonal balance.
Because everyone’s hormonal set-point is different, it’s only natural that the pill would function as poison for some women, neutral for others, and life-saving for others.
Remember that health is determined not only by medication, but also by the environment.
So, although birth control pills, patches, and injections are great means of contraception, there are certain health and physical considerations to be made before just filling the prescription and dealing with the results.
I spoke with five athletes about their personal experiences with prescription birth control to help you think about some of these implications.
Sure, I could have produced a scholarly paper on the topic and combed through all of the available material. Science, on the other hand, is concerned with methods. In other words, it calculates the average of all test participants’ answers and reports it. And although this may give us a decent idea of what most women can anticipate when they take the pill, it doesn’t tell us much about what happens to each individual.
Individuals regain power via anecdotal tales. It gives them the opportunity to share their own narrative. It also enables you to think beyond your finances and evaluate the personal effect that various lifestyle choices may have.
So, with that out of the way, let’s get down to business with the interviews.
Athlete Number One
Athlete #1 is a Figure Athlete of the highest caliber. She has won many Figure competitions and has finished in the top ten at the Arnold Classic and the Olympia on numerous occasions.
When I was a freshman in college, I began taking the pill with the purpose of preventing unintended pregnancy. I was on it for three years before being transferred to the patch for another year.
I recall gaining weight when I first started taking it, but I didn’t believe it was a significant amount. It was well worth the trade-off, since staying slim when pregnant is much more difficult. However, when I started working out, I discovered that I couldn’t drop the additional ten pounds I’d acquired until I stopped using prescription birth control. That is, in fact, the primary reason I stopped taking it.
In terms of sex drive and desire, I consider myself to be quite typical, whatever that means. So I don’t believe I had any issues there. There were no additional negative effects that I could see.
Finally, I believe that prescription birth control is effective for avoiding conception, but I had to quit taking it as my Figure career advanced because it hampered my ability to make the kind of development I desired.
In addition, recent research on the possible harmful health consequences convinced me that it was no longer a choice for me. “No glove, no love,” I tell my husband nowadays.
Athlete number two
Athlete #2 used to be a professional figure skater. She competed in figure skating for 14 years and was nationally rated.
When I was 17, I began taking birth control on prescription. It was suggested that I do so in order to assist control my menstruation and avoid pregnancy if I become sexually active. For approximately four years, I was on oral birth control (TriCyclen and Alesse).
I didn’t notice any weight gain when I first began taking the tablets. Looking back, though, I can see a difference; they say hindsight is 20/20. Despite the fact that I ate the same and exercised the same way both before and after taking the pill (figure skating plus off-ice training), my body fat percentage increased from 15% to 18% in less than a year.
I recall having lengthy discussions with my trainers regarding my changing bodyweight and body fat percentage at the time. However, I didn’t disclose that I was on birth control, and we all assumed it was due to my reaching puberty.
I didn’t tell my coaches about it since prescription birth control is a no-no in the skating industry. Coaches, trainers, and skaters all believe that it causes them to gain weight. Figure skaters must be tiny and slender, therefore it’s just not a choice for females who wish to be competitive and exceptional.
When I stopped skating, I definitely noticed the change. My exercise level dropped, and I acquired a significant amount of body fat. Over the following year, I became more engaged in exercising and began a fat-loss regimen. I performed well, but not outstanding.
I lost a lot of body fat when I switched to the IUD, especially in my upper arms, buttocks, and thighs. However, since this occurred at the same time that I altered my training, I’m not sure whether my much slimmer physique is due to the new program, coming off prescription birth control, or a mix of the two.
In addition, although I didn’t notice any changes in mood either on the pills or with the IUD, I did notice a significant decrease in sexual drive. I started to lose my sexual appetite after approximately a year on the medications. I had to start using personal lubricants after three years. After four years, I had no desire left and only did so on extremely rare occasions.
Thankfully, after a month off the prescribed drugs, my sexual urges started to grow. I’m more open to sex now, and I’m more enthusiastic about it than I was when I was 17. What a difference! In addition, my demand for personal lubricants has significantly decreased.
The main drawback to the IUD is that all of the traditional menstrual side symptoms have returned, including severe cramps, thicker flow, and longer length (seven days). This, on the other hand, strikes me as much more natural. In the end, I believe the IUD is as near to being natural as you can go.
Finally, my advise is to conduct your own research before going with the first item the doctor recommends. Keep in mind your life objectives and aspirations, as well as how each kind of birth control will impact them. Look for a birth control technique that is right for you.
Athlete #3 is a former world champion powerlifter, a drug-free bodybuilder who competes internationally, and a leading authority in female training.
Because the “rhythm technique” didn’t work for me, I began using birth control. When I was 17, I became pregnant with my first kid. So, at the age of 18, I began taking Ortho 7/7/7. For almost 13 years, I just took this.
In contrast to most women’s experiences, I found that when I stopped using the pill, my weight increased. But then I’d lose weight. I saw a change in my lower body, especially my hips, thighs, and glutes, as I became more slim. Over time, I’d also notice a decrease in the appearance of cellulite.
Aside from that, I didn’t notice any significant changes in mood or sexuality. I definitely experience less PMS symptoms now, but I’m not sure whether it’s because I’m not on the pill, because I’m eating better, or because I have a better balance of essential oils.
And, in terms of sex, having a kid at the age of 17 appeared to affect my sexual drive; there are a lot of other variables at play here. I should also mention that while I was on oral contraceptives, my skin looked better (reduced acne).
I used to compete in powerlifting while on the pill. Anticipating the onset of your monthly cycle and taking more or fewer tablets to postpone getting your period was extremely popular in powerlifting since the pill controls the start date. The issue was fluid retention, as well as symptoms like low back discomfort and how your period impacted your overall function.
For example, in the week after my period, I’ve always been at my best. So, by adjusting medications, I’d attempt to time it that way. It’s not a good idea, yet it’s extremely prevalent in weight-class sports.
Having said that, I’d want to make a crucial point, and believe me when I say this is coming from someone who knows! Keep in mind that the purpose of birth control is to avoid unintended pregnancies. An unintended pregnancy is not worth a bikini contest or a bikini. No prescription, on the other hand, is worth years of hormonal disturbance. So, make wise and well-informed decisions.
Athlete #4 is a successful bodybuilder, a champion natural bodybuilder, and a leading authority in female fitness.
I’ve been involved in sports since I was five years old. At the age of 13, I began lifting weights. I was in great condition when I married at the age of 18. I was never concerned about body fat since I was active, ate a good diet, and had plenty of energy.
I chose to use the birth control pill since having children was not an option for me as a college student. I was retaining water in less than a week, and after two weeks, I observed an increase in body fat and a reduction in energy. My exercise levels and nutrition have remained same. However, my body had.
For another month, I took the tablet, and the main side effects were irritability and weight increase, which was largely water retention and a little amount of fat. I immediately concluded that the pill wasn’t a suitable option of contraception for me since I’m extremely conscious about always looking and feeling my best.
After I stopped using it, I did some research and discovered the possible health hazards of birth control, which confirmed my choice. In the meanwhile, my mood had returned to normal, as had my physique. I’m a hardcore when it comes to taking care of my body, so it was a no-brainer for me.
That isn’t to imply that I believe birth control is bad for anybody. Not taking medication, on the other hand, was a simple method for me to not only remain slimmer, but also to guarantee that my body was working properly without being “masked” by any drug.
Athlete #5 is a rookie figure skater with a diverse athletic background that includes figure skating, soccer, and track & field.
I’ve had plenty of practice with birth control. I began with the pill and used it for about five years. Then, for approximately three years, I switched to quarterly injections. After that, I used the patch for another three years before switching to an IUD.
Because of headaches, I began using birth control at the age of sixteen. For example, before to puberty, I had never had a headache. After puberty, though, I became light-headed, suffered from headaches that prohibited me from engaging in sports, and eventually passed out (about once every two weeks). These symptoms would appear around the time I was scheduled to get my period and while I was exercising.
My periods were also extremely erratic. I’d take a month off, then have it for two days, then five days again a few weeks later, and so on. In the end, the doctor concluded that the tablet was the solution. I wasn’t sexually active at the time, but the pill made me feel better, so I was satisfied.
I weighed between 100 and 106 pounds before starting the pill at the age of 16. I don’t remember my body fat percentage at the time, but I was skating four hours a day, five days a week. I was also jogging for 30 to 60 minutes three times a week. At this point, my body fat percentage was probably at its lowest.
I didn’t detect any changes in body composition after taking the pill, but I probably wasn’t paying attention since I’d never had to before. I was skinny, my instructors never mentioned anything, and I got enough praises to convince me there were no problems. I had hoped for a larger cup size, but it was not to be.
I was still exercising when I went to university, but some of my routines had altered. In addition, I went from monthly to quarterly birth control injections. Regrettably, I acquired a significant amount of weight. Despite my efforts, I weighed between 125 and 130 pounds at the time. Apart from that, I began to see an increase in hair growth, despite the fact that I had no headaches, periods, bloating, or any of the other typical adverse effects.
That was the end of it for me. It’s time to make a change!
I switched to the patch at this point. The first three months were challenging since I had “morning sickness” for the first three days after applying each new patch. Aside from that, I had no other issues or symptoms.
While on the patch, I was able to lose a few pounds, although I was extremely active (teaching physical education, coaching figure skating, lifting weights, and preparing for a marathon) and didn’t eat much owing to a very busy schedule.
However, after approximately three years, I did some research and discovered that I’d been on chemical birth control for 11 years – far too long! I made the decision to try an IUD.
I was working out hard in the gym and had developed some muscle, but I was having trouble shedding weight before having this implanted. I couldn’t seem to get out of my rut, no matter how hard I tried. Plus, I got the impression that any food violation, no matter how little, would undo weeks of improvement.
However, after I was no longer on the patch, I dropped approximately six pounds of body fat in less than six weeks, mainly in my lower body, which has been a problem region for me since I was 20.
I can now consume carbohydrates without worrying about how they may affect my body composition. Now that I incorporate fruit and entire grains in my diet, I’m able to maintain a healthy body composition all year. It’s incredible.
In addition, I’m relieved to report that I’ve discovered that birth control has a detrimental effect on my sex life. I didn’t know what sex should be like since I wasn’t sexually active when I was 16 and began using birth control. As a result, I despised sexual activity when I first began. It wasn’t nice; it was painful. Mentally, I wasn’t there and was repulsed by the whole sex act.
Partners would get irritated and angry as a result of this. I had to be persuaded to have sex in the first place. Lubricants helped a little, but not enough to make me want to eat it. The only way to persuade me was to use alcohol. I was certain it was me. Or perhaps it was just exaggerated.
Now that I’m off birth control, I don’t need lubrication, I’m involved (both intellectually and physically), orgasms are simple to come by, and most of all, I like it. In addition, I like it when my spouse starts sexual activity.
Around the same time, I began to go through what I refer to as a “real” phase. I experienced little cramps, increased flow, vivid color, and length, all of which were how they should be. None of these symptoms prevent me from engaging in physical exercise, going to work, or doing other things.
It’s the same now, and I’m glad to be feeling more like a lady. I love sex, look forward to it, initiate it, and sometimes think about it. It’s a whole new experience for me! Not to add that my partner is open to change.
There are, of course, certain disadvantages. I’ve noticed cramps, higher flow, longer periods, and bloating around my period after going off birth control. Most females start using birth control to alleviate these adverse effects. However, I don’t mind since the benefits far exceed the drawbacks.
The greatest piece of advise I can offer is to stay off the internet unless it’s for the purpose of enhancing your health or your capacity to participate in society. I’d suggest simply getting a regular IUD and living your life as a woman.
Personally, I believe that having greater control over your body is beneficial. Pills, patches, and injections are all man-made modifying agents that are unnatural and unintended.
Take charge of your contraception.
That’s all, right from the mouths of the sportsmen. There are five tales and five sets of birth control experiences in this collection.
Again, anecdotal evidence isn’t often reliable. And these women’s stories may or may not be similar to yours. However, maybe their experiences might help you consider your own birth control options. They may even start a fresh discussion with your doctor.
That’s exactly what Figure Athlete is about: taking charge of your health, body composition, and performance.
www.figureathlete.com released the first version of this article. All Rights Reserved, 1998 — 2008 Testosterone, LLC.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Can birth control affect growth?
Yes, it can.
Does birth control make you weaker?
Birth control does not make you weaker.
What damage does birth control do to your body?
Birth control does not have any long-term negative effects on your body.
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- birth control weight loss
- does birth control change your body shape
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