HUH?! Aren't you on the pill though?!
You just read the reaction I get when I tell others that I don't take the contraceptive pill...
Although in the online world, there has been more attention lately to the disadvantages of contraceptives, I still seem to be a stranger in 'normal' life.
This post explains how contraceptives affect your body and changes you as a person.
When you use other hormonal contraceptives or the copper spiral, this information may also apply to you. Always consult a doctor if you are considering changes in contraception
(Check out our other articles for more information on how contraception affects your body and makes you a different person)
The ‘must have’ pill
The average age at which girls first take long-term contraception is 16.1 years. In total, 67% of Dutch women (18-45 years) are on long-term contraception. Taking the pill, even without a partner, is the most normal thing in the world, to be able to regulate your periods, to make your improve skin (read: to combat acne) or just to be sure. A small-scale study found that girls between the ages of 12 and 16 want to take the pill to be a 'part of it'. The benefits of this are being told constantly friends, in the media and even in biology classes: "You can have sex without getting pregnant!" Whilst the disadvantages are not being paid attention to ... Read here how contraception affected my body, health and life
What your teacher did tell you
With the pill you artificially change the concentrations of your sex hormones: progesterone remains high in relation to estrogen, which ensures that the release of LH and FSH is inhibited; the body is not going to prepare for fertilization.
Then there is no ovulation. This excludes pregnancy and you can have intercourse without giving birth to a baby 9 months later.
What your teacher DIDN'T tell you
Progesterone is popularly referred to as the 'pregnancy hormone' because it is presented in large sizes in pregnant women.
While using the pill, you are actually always ‘fake’ pregnant.
Hormones are signal substances that determine what we do, what we feel, who we are, what our brain and body favor and reacts with.
The pill changes your hormone profile, so you are a different version of yourself.
I discuss the psychological effects of the pill here in detail.
The effects of an altered hormone profile are not only psychological, physically there are also noticeable reactions with most of its users.
9 reasons why your pill, copper IUD and other contraceptives cause you to gain weight
Before I dive in to all this; I want to make clear that there every body type and size is beautiful and deserves to be loved, respected and honored. In this post I might seem as if I refer to weight gain as a side effect of birth control, however that's doesn't mean that weight gain nor loss itself is something negative.
1. Weight gain is certain.
The change in hormone levels causes your fat balance to be disrupted.
Your body actually becomes very smart at storing and retaining fat.
The average weight that women gain after taking the pill is 5.7 kg.
With an average increase in fat percentage of 5%. Both were measured with the same lifestyle.
2. It is difficult to work off that weight.
The pill ensures that the constantly high progesterone level and the 'false pregnancy', causes your body to replenish and retain all the reserves as much as it can.
Your fat burning at rest is greatly reduced and is difficult to kick start during a workout.
In addition, fat cells produce hormones, which means that weight loss is slower and your appetite increases, as your body is 'trapped' in a circle, taking much more effort, dedication and sweat to lower your body fat and weight.
3. Diets don't work.
As explained above, your body wants to have enough reserves to save for you and the ‘baby’. With a low-calorie diet, your body reacts negatively. Although you may lose something during the diet, you will notice that the weight will fly back twice as fast.
4. Legs, buttocks, stomach, breasts.
The altered hormone level affects your fat storage.
Not only does the body increase the amount of reserves, it stores them effortlessly in these well-known areas: legs, buttocks, stomach and breasts.
5. Your muscles work differently.
Progesterone increases due to the pill causing strength in your muscles decreases on average 20%. Less oxygen and water are transported to your muscles, not only makes you acidify faster but you also lose measurable strength. A high progesterone profile goes together with a low magnesium content in your body. This can cause you to experience muscle cramps throughout your cycle. Pain such as calf, shoulder or abdomen (PMS).
6. You retain moisture.
In addition to a thicker mucus layer in the uterus, the changed hormone also ensures that you retain more fluid throughout your body. In your muscles, but especially under the skin. This is noticeable in the hands, ankles feet, stomach, legs and even in your face.
7. Carbohydrates are stored as fat.
There are two main reasons for this:
A. Progesterone inhibits carbohydrate processing to replenish your reserves.
B. Your kidneys excrete B vitamins. They are involved in the conversion of carbohydrates to energy. A shortage of this ensures that the sandwiches, banana and rice that you eat are no longer used to provide your body with energy but are immediately stored as fat.
8. You get more hungry
"I'm just always very hungry."
Insatiable hunger. Feeling like you're still starving after three meals and a load of comfort food? It is one of the most significant side effects experienced by women on contraception. This has several causes:
a. As mentioned above, you have a shortage of certain nutrients. Your body gives you the signal that you are undernourished and therefore wants you to replenish the reserves (of those nutrients) as soon as possible. For example, a magnesium deficiency can lead to a strong craving for chocolate.
b. You have less of the ‘happiness’ hormone because you have less serotonin therefore you feel unhappy. Emotional eating is extremely common therefore this dip in serotonin only heightens that need. Eating carbohydrate food, your body produces a different type of 'happiness hormone': endorphins. However, the difference is that serotonin keeps you "happy" for a long time, while endorphins cause a short burst of ‘happiness’. Therefore, you have to eat more and more to keep the feeling.
c. You have the feeling of being starved. The pill changes how your body handles the so-called hunger hormone Leptin. Leptin is a protein hormone that is produced in your fat cells. Here it actually works as a messenger that regulates your satiety and energy expenditure. When you eat and are full, the hormone gives your brain the signal: "I am full". This way, your body naturally ensures that you do not overeat and maintain weight. A wonderful mechanism by nature, the more leptin hormone the less hungry you are and the faster your metabolism or fat burning. Progesterone inhibits Leptin production and therefore ensures that you never feel that.
9. You get tired.
A high progesterone level causes fatigue, a feeling of exhaustion. You spend more time sitting, lying or sleeping. It also becomes more difficult to commit goals. It's easier to cancel plans, order food and then sit exhausted on the couch. We all understand that the aforementioned lifestyle is not beneficial if you plan to reduce your body fat percentage.
Despite the focused on the ‘visible; effects of contraception, the 'real' consequences are of course much more complex and serious than gaining a few pounds.
Are you currently taking the pill, do you have a spiral (copper / Mirena) or do you use a different form of hormonal contraception or have you used it in recent years?
Side effects are not noticeable overnight but come on insidiously. You do not always notice it and you may not link them to your contraception.
In addition, many doctors are insufficiently informed about the consequences and side effects of this and are therefore unable to help you.
Painkillers, anti-inflammatories or anti-depressants are often prescribed to remedy the new symptoms, which actually only puts you in a downward spiral.
Do your own research, don't get discouraged too quickly by any doctors who don't believe your problems are due to contraception and keep going until you are comfortable with your choices. I share all that studies, researches and experiences have taught me in the hope that my articles can keep you more informed that I was.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12439643 2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25232147 3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC154448/?tool=pmcentrez 4. http://www.cell.com/cell-metabolism/abstract/S1550-4131(13)00200-3 5. http://poj.peeters-leuven.be/content.php?id=1000269&url=article.php 6. http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/32/12/2281.full.pdf 7. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/82/1/41.long 8. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15531540