Is your birth control pill making you fat and sad?

Most general practitioners prescribe the contraceptive pill so freely that we almost believe that it doesn’t ‘count’ when it comes to being classified as a medication. Going back to my own teenage years a script was written at the first sign of a skin condition, irregular or a painful menstrual cycle or perhaps as a way to skip a cycle all together! We have somehow lost sense of what this is actually doing to our bodies and our minds. What is even more alarming is that we are led to believe that this is ‘fixing’ underlying hormonal imbalances.

Having said that, I do believe that we have an increasing awareness of the impact of the pill. When the pill was originally made available it created freedom of choice for women and a sense of independence about when one chose to start a family. As women we have this finely tuned orchestra of hormones which play in the background which we need to respect, nurture and do everything within our power to balance. Ladies a part of our role on this planet is to have children and whether you decide to go down that path or not it is important to recognise there is a bigger force at play. However for some of us we look at our cycle like a massive inconvenience. Unfortunately the Pill will not only take you away from this natural rhythm it can effect your moods, fluid retention and even cause you to gain weight. In fact I was quite shocked to hear on a Joe Rogan podcast with Dr Kelly Brogan that the pill can actually be a gateway drug to anti depressants. This really makes you think twice about the path you take when it comes to contraception.

Does the pill really make you fat?

The main culprit for weight gain is linked with the hormone ostrogen. Oestrogen promotes the development and maintenance of female characteristics in the body and depending upon which type of pill you take it is one of the main ingredients. It is hard to label any hormone good or bad but it is important to have the right ratios. The ratios are already difficult to manage with additional lifestyle stressors without adding synthetic hormones to the mix. The problem is that with too much oestrogen we can push our body towards what is known as oestrogen dominance which can cause fluid retention, painful periods, contribute to cellulite and make it hard to shift body weight particularly around your tummy hips and thighs.

The problem arises because oestrogen’s natural role is to store energy as fat as well as adding weight by increasing the bodies water retention. If you are putting extra oestrogen into your body in the form of the birth control pill then it’s only natural that you will experience this. Many women beat themselves up over it and can’t understand why despite dieting they simply can’t shift the bloat!

 

2. Increase appetite 

The hormone oestrogen found in the pill can also be responsible for increasing your appetite. With an increased appetite comes the weight gain as you are consuming more food than you need. Also, it’s important to mention that there are some progestin-dominant birth control pills that can cause an increase in appetite and of course, more permanent weight gain.

3. The pill and mood disorders

There have been so many recorded instances of the pill causing mood disorders amongst women. Some being detrimental to their well-being, lives and ability to function in a relationship. The birth control pill can be responsible for turning women into monsters, emotional wrecks, crazy anxious and jealous versions of their former selves. It is often the cause of low libido which is a complete oxymoron to the outcome most women are looking for.  The most likely explanation regarding the mood disorders would be to do with hormones. Many women experience mood changes throughout their natural menstrual cycle anyway, so pumping more hormones into your body makes it very possible to have even crazier mood swings. Some women may be very sensitive to the way these added hormones interact with their body and experience horrific mood swings.

Studies have also proven that there is a relationship between mood disorders and the pill. Researchers at the University of Copenhagen investigated health records of more than 1 million Danish women aged between 15 and 34.

It was discovered that those women taking the combined pill, which contains artificial versions of the hormones oestrogen and progesterone were a staggering 23% more likely to be prescribed an antidepressant than those not on hormonal contraception.

For women on the progestin-only pill, the number rose to 34%. It increased even further, to 80% more likely, for girls aged between 15 and 19 on the combined pill.

So what is a better alternative?

Unfortunately it can feel like slim pickings when it comes to a good alternative which doesn’t tamper with your hormones. At the same time it is important to remember that you are only having to combat 6 fertile days per month if the goal is not to get pregnant. Something that I haven’t tried but Dr Kelly Brogan talked about is the Daysy fertility calculator which takes just 60 seconds to tell you if are good to ‘go’ or when to back off.  (insert link http://www.au.daysy.me/) It is super simple to use and is a temperate gauge which monitors your basal body temperature with a 99.3% level of accuracy.
A second alternative is the copper IUD which is a device inserted in the uterus which prevents the sperm from getting through the to egg. It has a high level of 99.8% effectiveness yet women have reported issues with copper allergy, pelvic infection, abnormal bleeding and uterus distortion.
The third option would be using condoms which hold a 85% level of accuracy. One of their main benefits is they are the only form of contraception which will protect you from STD’s however some women have an allergy to rubber and often they are disliked because they are inconvenient and messy.
With any of these options the most important thing is it is a personal choice and has to feel right for you. Overall I believe that the less you tamper with your hormones the better.
The case for the birth control pill causing weight gain and mood disorders is pretty staggering. It can affect many areas of your life as women so if you are taking it and are suffering any of it’s pretty nasty side effects you should see your medical practitioner immediately to discuss other options which may be better suited to you.
If you are looking to come off the Pill and have been experiencing the oestrogen dominant symptoms we list above we highly recommend working with one of our coaches to help support your body to rebalance your hormones. The types of protocols we use with our clients is increasing your cruciferous vegetables and antioxidants such as green tea and turmeric along with phase one and phase two detoxification support. Some of the products which we love are Alpha Venus from ATP science and P1 and P2 from the Poliquin Group and also by including a good Probiotic.
We hope this article helps to keep you informed and helps you to make the right decisions that give you the best emotional and physical outcome.
Amanda
The Queen of Lean

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