T Nation

Depo-Provera- the question that never fits in ANY forum

And you wouldn’t believe how many forums this has been on that it has no replies to…
So! Taking Depo-Provera for obvious reasons. I like the convenience and I hate that time of the month. I’ve just lately been wondering about birth control affecting fat loss though, and can’t seem to find any articles/research/opinions about it.

Very good question. I don’t know the specifics, but I would think that some forms of birth control could affect fat loss due to the hormones. Have you asked your physician, gynocologist or local Planned Parenthood office if they can tell you more?

I would think that the package or information brochure would list potential side effects, such as weight gain or holding water. I’ve dated someone who used Depo, and she said it made her gain a few pounds, but I don’t know if it made it hard for her to lose weight. But she was already thin, so she didn’t really have that concern.

It comes with the standard “may cause weight gain/bloating/depression/loss of libido” warnings. I’ve heard some real horror stories from women who reacted badly to it, but I’ve always functioned very well on it. Plus, I started lifting the year I started Depo, so I’ve only gotten in better shape since then. Unfortunately the doctor I get the prescription from isn’t familiar with working out past the usual cardio-20-minutes-three-times-a-week recommendations…guess I’ll keep searching!

Your gynecologist is probably not going to know about this. Furthermore, there is powerful pro-contraceptive attitude throughout the medical field and in the literature, so it can be very frustrating – trust me! – to try to get T-mag-level information about these drugs.

I have done a little research on this. The bad news is that Depo-Provera is probably the worst contraceptive for weight/fat gain. Many hormonal contraceptive (HC) formulations claim that they do not cause weight gain that is statistically significant, but with Depo, there seems to be no doubt that there is weight gain. Even with the other formulations that claim no such effects, there is no measurement of body composition done in the studies. A woman who gains a “minimal” 2 pounds may have gained 5 pounds of fat.

The package inserts (and back side of magazine ads) say that hormonal contraceptives do indeed affect insulin sentivity negatively. Doctors will rarely consider this a cause for concern as long as you don’t appear to become a raging diabetic, but you will have a harder time staying lean.

Many (if not all) formulas reduce free testosterone considerably (e.g., 50%). As women don’t have much testosterone to begin with, this can be bad. Libido is frequently trashed, which to me seems the ultimate cruel irony. On the plus side, reduced T levels will give you the most beautiful skin you’ve ever had, if you suffer from oily, acne-prone skin.

My anecdotal experience with hormonal contraceptives has been that women who use them appear to get fatter, with Depo being the worst in this regard. However, hormonal contraceptives do cause quite a bit of bloating (the new formula Yasmin is supposed to be better in this regard) so that may be responsible for some of the change in appearance.

Through personal experience and the little research I have done, I have come to believe that hormonal contraceptives are not a good idea, particularly for women who want to be lean and highly fit. The significant risks (e.g., hormonally sensitive cancers) seem to be consistently minimized in the popular media (women’s magazines) and by the medical establishment. Furthermore, the older you get, the higher the risks become and the worse the side effects.

However, I personally am giving the patch (Ortho-Evra) a try, at the recommendation of my doctor. (Hey, I want something easy, affordable, and non-interfering, just like everybody else.) This is my fourth formulation of HC (the first 3 being oral), and I feel a positive difference. The advantage is that transdermal delivery allows continuous dosing, avoiding liver metabolism, thus allowing the dose to be much lower. I didn’t think I wanted something visible on my skin, but it has turned out to be no big deal.

Still, given all the negatives I described above, I think I will ultimately use something like Natural Family Planning and/or condoms, for health and fitness reasons.

I can’t speak from personal experience on the Depo issue but I have known several females that gained significant amounts of weight while on it. Stands to reason that the hormones might have something to do with that as nothing else in their lives changed at that time. I do have personal experience with various birth control pills and know that my body simply cannot handle them. I’m very sensitive to hormones. Even on the lowest, “safest” dose I gained 40lbs in 2 months the last time I tried the pill (4 years ago). It also made me break out in cystic acne - incredibly painful, large welts that could hardly stand to be touched. After that, I had no need for the pill since no one in his right mind would want to touch a pimply, welt-covered fat ass. :wink: Seriously though, an option you might look into is the IUD. If you meet the criterion for candidacy, I think it is the best damn thing out there.

Look for ironbabe’s posts on the subject. She had a peculiar reaction, and her liver actually converted it into a form of steroid. She ended up putting on mass quickly, losing some fat, and getting a deeper voice.

Okay…TO ALL T VIXENS out there, Depo Provera is horrible! DON’T DO IT! I took Depo and I couldn’t lose weight at all for a whole year. NO matter what I did. It’s the most frustrating experience. I would definitely not recommend it to any female who wants lose weight.

See, this is why I’m so curious! As is to be expected, everyone seems to react differently to Depo. Me, I’ve had no issues that I can tell; no drop in libido, no moodiness, no weight gain that I can tell…of course, I had been lifting before I started depo and I’ve only worked out harder since then.
I found some information online that medroxyprogesterone can increase appetite- but I’ve always eaten like a horse, even before. I guess I’m really just trying to find something scientific that says something about it hindering fat loss etc…I’m around 17-18% but trying to get lower. There just really is such a lack of anything scientific- all I keep finding is opinions and “depo turned me into a fat slob” stories.
If I find anything fact-based I’ll turn it in…

[quote]hali
04/10/03
09:32 AM

Okay…TO ALL T VIXENS out there, Depo Provera is horrible! DON’T DO IT! I took Depo and I couldn’t lose weight at all for a whole year. NO matter what I did. It’s the most frustrating experience. I would definitely not recommend it to any female who wants lose weight.[/quote]

I don’t recommend Depo as well, but it’s not because of the weight gain/loss problems. From those I’ve seen and/or dated that used Depo, it really seemed to mess with their heads and caused a bit of a chemical imbalance which gave them pyschotic tendencies. I don’t know what it is with Depo, but it whacks you out!

Interestingly enough found some articles finally…

and

and because I forgot this, stupid me…
Wondering if you could balance out birth control, depo or otherwise, with methods of increasing testosterone naturally?? Anybody know an endocrinologist who bodybuilds?? :slight_smile:

Elveneyes, thanks for the links! And, I second your question! (“Wondering if you could balance out birth control, depo or otherwise, with methods of increasing testosterone naturally?? Anybody know an endocrinologist who bodybuilds?? :)”)

My BC lowers free testosterone. Many of the progestins are formulated to do this. Older progestins apparently had undesirable androgenic side effects. Maybe they have gone too far the other way? I think I used to have relatively high testosterone levels, for a woman, and frankly, I miss it.

I was wondering about DHEA as a means of increasing T. I have heard somewhere that it raises T in women (though not in men). I read a bunch of threads here in the forum and on T-mag but still feel unsure about DHEA. Bill Roberts’ opinion seems to be, Sure, go ahead and take a small amount, it really helps some people.

Yep yep sounds like we’re on the same page!! I’ve been looking at all the articles on raising testosterone and just starting to wonder now…in the meantime I guess I’ll up the steak consumption :wink:
I’ve sent out a few emails to some of the bodybuilding-knowledgeable doctors online…who knows if I’ll get a response with their probable email load but we’ll see.

I actually have a bottle of DHEA, which states, “Not for women under age 35.” So I am reluctant to try without knowing more about it. I noticed, reading a bunch of threads returned by a search for “DHEA,” that some people claim it has done wonders for them, particularly in just feeling good. I bet it would be OK for me, but I need to be ultra-conservative in regard to the risk of virilizing effects. I am a musician, and if my voice were to get even a smidge lower it would be BAD for me. On the other hand, I just KNOW my T levels have dropped. I wish I could get it back.