Hey all! So I have very little knowledge in this subject, but I am beginning to wonder how much influence our hormones have over weight and fat storage. I have always had a stomach, even at my lowest, tiniest weight when everything melted away, my belly was still there. I started reading up on stubborn bellies in women and found that many of them have PCOS. I have been tested for this, and don't have it, but PCOS is related to insulin resistance, which I might have. Anyways, what I found pretty interesting, is that once these women began taking birth control, and/or medication for IR (Metformin) some had a very easy time losing weight in comparison to before, and some commented that this weight loss came from the belly area. What I've gleaned, is that PCOS promotes higher testosterone levels, and this encourages a more male-type fat storage pattern (less in the butt, breast and thighs, more in the stomach). This is definitely how things manifested for me in my body. While weight loss comes down to calories, for sure, I wonder if hormones make it harder, and site-specific. I have discussed wanting to try out birth control on another thread here, however, I'm still kind of nervous, slash without it, I have a perfectly regular period, great skin/hair, and my symptoms of PMS have gotten so much better, I assume, because of less stress/more food. Still, I wonder....Do any of you have knowledge or experience with this?
I do not have any knowledge on how hormones works except for all the diet books that talk about that and I would not rely on that. I think it's true hormones affect fat distribution so do genes. I think hormones influence our appetite and our health so they have to be in balance for everything to work out. But if you do not have PCOS I would be tempted to think this is just your genetic fat distribution. And as you said more belly fat may contribute to insulin resistance but again if you do not have it I would not be concern at this point.
That said, if you want to try birth control they are safe and very low dose. I understand your hesitation if everything is well with your period. I have been on BC for 25 years and they are fantastic for me. I am so hormonal. I have very hard PMS with very heavy periods and migraines so for me it's a no brainer to take them until I am in menopause (which is safe as well). I fell pregnant twice during my 25 years on BC and in a very fast manner after stopping the pills! So my reproductive system was not destroyed by the pill...
Many scientific studies have shown that today's pills do not make women gain or lose weight. But personaly I do not believe it would help you lose more fat in the belly area especially if you do not have any hormonal problems....just my humble opinion.
I'm not sure on this, either, but hormones do affect fat storage, we know. After all, insulin is the "master hormone" and it is a fat storing one.
I, too, have a belly more than any other trouble area and at my thinnest, everything got smaller including my belly, but it was still noticably bigger than the rest of my body - just smaller-bigger, haha. This did not change for me when I was on bc for many years, though. That could be the case for some but not me. I do not have the other conditions you described, either, so for me, anyway, it appears just to be the way I'm built.
Interestingly, the more I get comfortable and even happy with my body just the way it is (belly and all! :), the more I notice it's not so different from other women's. Like I was in Hawaii and spent a lot of time at the beach and pool and I noticed that many of us ladies have it and I used to think mine was really noticably big, just becaue it wasn't flat as a board. I basically have the same shape as many women who are fit and nowhere near being overweight. Not so unique at all. I'm starting not to mind it so much and am sure way done throwing solutions that don't work (non-solutions?) at it.
I know about this.
So yes, high testosterone causes fat to store around the midsection in men and women. Adequate levels of estrogen give women the fat storage so many despise - in the thighs, butt and saddle bags.
Another thing that can cause weight gain in the midsection 8n women is high cortisol and/or low estrogen. That is why older women (those past menopause or in the middle of menopause) have more belly fat. It's actually a protective adaptation of the body in the face if the low estrogen.
I know personally when I was really struggling with disordered eating and excessive exercise 8 still had fat in my abdomen. I called it my "belt-o-fat" because it was an adequate description not only of where it sat but what it felt like. At this time I also had hypothalamic amenorrhea. As I gained weight to recover from HA all the weight seemed to go right to my belly and the belt of fat just got bigger. That is until my estrogen came back up to normal levels. Then it redistributed and my butt and thigh fat grew.
You say you think you have some insulin resistance. What is that thought based on?
I should also add that many women believe they are carrying extra fat in their belly when really what they are carrying is their organs. That's thanks to all the photos hopped images of women making them look like they gave perfectly flat bellies.
I never noticed any difference in weight and fat storage patterns on the pill. I take it not to get pregnant, but like Brigidoo, there were so many other benefits that I'll be staying on it until menopause too, which may be now. My doctor has been dropping the dose very low in preparation for coming off of the pill completely. No sign of a period since she did that, which she told me to expect, but it's still sort of amazing.
It will be interesting to see if menopause brings all kinds of dramatic changes or if it's a non-event. So far, nothing.
All I can share is personal experiences, but I never noticed any differences either in body comp/weight or menstrual symptoms since on/off the pill. If anything I've gained a lot more weight off of it - from getting pregnant. LOL. (Which did take a while, for me, after coming off the pill to start ovulating again, by the way, if that's something of concern to you.) Both before and after I have had easy abs and put all my fat in my legs. I think that's just genetics. But I also know hormones must affect where you store fat because I believe pregnancy hormones temporarily put more or less fat in different places on my body (just observationally, though).
I totally understand wanting to try something that might change hormones and reshape your body, but I also like what Happyme and Sunshine said, about learning to accept that's just how your built, and it's probably not near as noticeable as you think, and that sometimes we do have unrealistic expectations of how bodies are supposed to look.
Hi Natalie. I know that I am going to have a different opinion than some of the others based just on my own experience but my sentiment is this - PLEASE don't do anything to mess with your beautiful, natural, healthy cycle and hormonal system that is functioning just as it should be. Everyone stores fat in different places - in my family, the women have smaller hips and bigger boobs and a softer tummy. This is our genetics. I know that there are reasons for taking the pill and that it works for some women, but if it was me, I would avoid it at all costs. As someone who has not had a natural cycle for nearly 10 years, I would give anything to be where you are - with regular menstruation. The pill turns off all of your own hormonal activity and the 'periods' you have on the pill are not a period - they are a withdrawal bleed - you do not ovulate. Why would you want to switch off this totally sacred and divinely feminine process when it is all working so well for you?
I know I sound 'woo woo' on this one - I was trying to decide whether to comment or not - but it is just a subject close to my heart. Hope I haven't offended anyone by being so frank.
ETA - I'm not sure of your situation or how old you are - but please also be aware that after you come off the pill, many women can experience HA (Hypothalamic Amenorrhea) and have a hard time getting their periods back. In my HA support group, many of the women have post pill HA. It's not good.