Women are such amazing creatures that it’s downright mind boggling at times. I know what you’re thinking – you and I are both women, so such self-praise sounds a bit excessive.
But really, think about it for a minute. Our physical makeup is dramatically different from that of our male counterparts. We have to train nearly twice as hard to make any substantial gains in the gym, and we’re genetically preprogrammed to store more fat than men, all because of the differences in our hormonal makeup.
Let’s face it, ladies, our bodies are built for child rearing, not heavy lifting or figure competitions. Regardless of whether those babies are a goal of yours or not, your system will always do its best to ensure a soft & comfortable atmosphere for that baby’s development during the first nine months of its existence.
What’s even more interesting is the fact that if you’re actively working on preventing pregnancy, you’ll likely have an increased hormonal imbalance and even more pronounced effects of the estrogen hormone doing its job.
Not sure what I’m talking about? There is a phrase that will conjure up memories of bloat, fat gain, nausea, spotting or breakthrough bleeding, mood swings, and even severe headaches. It’s a short phrase with a lot of power. Ready?
Most of those who’ve tried birth control pills are well aware of their possible side effects. These are to be expected; anytime hormone levels are changed in any way, the body is bound to let you know of the changes.
Birth control pills are comprised of synthetic estrogen and progesterone (or in some cases, just one of those two). Since the menstrual cycle and ovulation are regulated by these hormones, this increase results in a variety of changes within the reproductive system, which results in pregnancy prevention.
Now, as any woman in the fitness industry knows, we try our very best to decrease the female hormones in our bodies. We all know that increased levels of testosterone, along with decreased estrogen hormones, are essential to the sense of well-being and overall health.
It’s testosterone that helps us gain lean mass, reduce fat storage, increase sexual desire, ward off that “I’m PMS’ing-leave-me-alone” mood, keep our skin healthy, and our minds sharp. Excessive levels of its opposing hormone, estrogen, produce the exact opposite effect on our bodies.
Clearly, increasing your very own estrogen levels by going on the pill sounds more than just a little crazy. It is, however, seen as an absolute necessity by most women. Many of us just accept the unfortunate side effects and learn to deal with the consequences of a less than perfect hormonal balance.
After all, what else is there?
That’s the question we’ll answer in this article. I’ve done some extensive research on the topic, including interviewing numerous fitness and figure competitors regarding their personal experiences with birth control pills. Each of these girls has discovered what works for her; whether it’s a lower dose estrogen pill or a viable alternative that does the job while keeping those hormone levels at least somewhat conducive to her hardcore fitness lifestyle and ultra-lean body goals.
Types of Birth Control Pills
There are two basic categories: those containing progestin only, and combination pills containing both progestin and estrogen.
Progestin-only pills contain no estrogen. These are sometimes referred to as the “mini-pill,” and are considered ideal for breastfeeding women since the presence of estrogen reduces milk production.
The mini-pill works by thickening the cervical mucus, thereby preventing sperm from entering the uterus. They must be taken at the same time every day.
While these pills don’t contain any estrogen, they’re not considered figure-friendly by any means. You see, the pill’s progesterone component has been shown to increase appetite – which of course makes it very difficult to diet, resulting in weight gain.
Some of the other side effects of the mini-pill include irregular or heavy bleeding, spotting, and severe headaches. Additionally, progestin-only pills have been shown to be slightly less effective than their combination counterparts – so that the chance of becoming a mommy is actually increased when choosing these over estrogen containing birth control pills.