I don't know anything about this issue from a scientific perspective but I can share my experience. Before puberty I used to store fat in my stomach area. Then I went on the pill, dieted, lost weight, gained weight and now at age 27 I think my body shape has changed. I store fat in my butt and have a flat stomach. I still store fat also in my arms though so I guess I'm sort of an hourglass body shape with broad shoulders, thick arms (compared to the rest of my body), small waist and wide hips and round butt. But maybe that's the result of strength training consistently for 4-5 years? who knows. I've been on the pill nonstop since I was 17 so I don't know if it affected my body as well.
Thank you all for your thoughts, and advice. Such good wisdom here. So grateful to be among you women.
Brigid- It is so great that you’ve been on them for so long without any issues. I have many friends for whom it acted as a real life-saver. My roommate had severe acne, and a very irregular period, and the pill really stabilized everything for her. She has perfect, glowing skin, and super easy periods… It seems like each experience is so individual. I do think that hormones absolutely influence where and how we store fat, though I am not sure if the pill, synthetic hormones, would create any difference in this area. It is probably some genetics in my case.
Happyme- Yes, my trusty belly and I have been together for as long as I can remember! I like the approach you describe, though. I too, have noticed the same thing in Italy on my trip here. Women have all sorts of beautiful curves. Im seeing a lot more non-flat stomachs on the beaches. The pressure to be super thin is so much less emphasized here. Women really embrace their bodies, and their femininity, and the men fall at their feet. They have this attitude which exudes confidence, and sexiness, and it’s so inspiring that it has absolutely nothing to do with the fat they carry.
Sunshine- Thanks for the information! I definitely believe high cortisol/low estrogen contributed to middle fat storage for me. Now that I am not operating in this flight or flight/insomnia mode, maybe things will change. I feel encouraged to know that things redistributed once you reached a better place of hormonal balance.
Mott- Thats really interesting about pregnancy! I agree about acceptance… The great thing to report in writing this though, is I don’t lack the shame and urgency I once did when thinking of this sort of topic. I accept my body, but also am curious about it, and would like to change it. I never thought the two could coexist for me, but wanting to change, while accepting and loving your current state, is totally possible, and so much healthier.
Skwigg- So hoping things stay smooth for you! I am sure no longer being in diet-mode is wonderful support for a healthy transition.
Jess- Thank you so much for your amazing, loving advice! I am so sorry you have struggled with menstruation. You are absolutely right that a regular cycle should be something to be cherished, and protected. It definitely does scare me to think about shutting down my ovaries. I guess it just seems so confusing when many women appear to do so well on them. I have PMS insomnia, exhaustion, and sometimes moody, for the week to 12 days before my period, so there are those symptoms, too. Sometimes they are more pronounced than others. But they get better each month now that I have been eating well, more carbs, and way less stress. A few years ago, my PMS was PMDD, and absolutely unbearable with suicidal thoughts, almost every month. So my hormonal health has drastically improved, since then...
Post-pill HA sounds so scary! I was reading that HA is mainly caused by undernourishment. Is this true? Is it possible that those individuals taking the pill, were also not eating enough/overexercising, while on the pill, and so the pill hid the effects of that lifestyle, rather than the pill causing it alone? I am just wondering...
Letizia- I really find that fascinating… I have read some similar stories like that, which got me thinking about this topic in the first place! The strength training could have helped things along, too. It is definitely difficult to pinpoint, but such an interesting correlation.
I was on the birth control pill up until a few years ago, but I didn't notice any difference in terms of body composition, weight, or periods. Going off of it was pretty seamless, too (i.e., my periods continued as usual). But, I never drastically lost or gained weight, either. The pill was the most convenient contraceptive method for me, for a long time. I wouldn't completely rule it out, so I'd have a very open discussion with your doctor about it. As with other medications, it has its drawbacks and advantages, and you will need to decide if its overall effectiveness outweighs any potential downfalls, or if it's the reverse.
The only other comment I'll make about PCOS is that its research is still murky, and treatment options are limited, which is why the birth control pill and Metformin are commonly prescribed. They don't really treat PCOS itself, but at least address the symptoms. And someone with PCOS does want to get a handle on things, because your risk for diabetes and heart disease increase significantly. So the medication can offer some relief to the individual, such as more level blood sugar readings.However, eating a balanced diet and regular exercise are also very effective at managing PCOS.
I feel ya on the hormones thing, because lately, I do think they're shifting. I notice my moods are a lot edgier a week before my period (I never had that issue before), for one.