Your Hormones are Changing Your Body Shape. Here’s How to Take Control of Them
Published | 5 min read
Sometimes, a woman’s body shape is altered by hormones. By balancing your hormones, you can change your body shape and achieve overall health at the same time.
The men-dominated society in many cultures all over the world puts so much pressure on women’s looks and glorifies the hourglass figure as the so-called perfect body shape. But a 2008 study has revealed that hormones play a huge part in determining women’s body shapes.
According to the research, the hormones that help women be physically stronger, deal with stress better and adapt to demanding work environments also increase the fat around their waist. Called androgens, the hormones are related to stamina and competitiveness, raising women’s waist-to-hip ratios.
If you have this type of body shape and are looking to decrease the amount of fat in your waist, you can achieve that by reducing your stress level.
Other than androgens, two of the most prominent hormones in women’s body, oestrogen and progesterone, can also affect body shapes. Read along as we unveil the roles of female hormones in fat storage and weight gain—or loss—in the article below!
The Female Hormones: Oestrogen and Progesterone
A lot of us have heard about oestrogen and progesterone, but what are they exactly?
Oestrogen is defined as a steroid hormone associated with the female reproductive organs and is responsible for the development of female sexual characteristics.
Besides affecting various systems of the female body such as breasts, uterus and vagina, oestrogen also influences:
The hormone helps in developing long bones and growth plates during puberty. It also protects bones in postmenopausal women.
Oestrogen reduces the risk of coronary artery diseases by regulating cholesterol levels.
Progesterone is defined as an endogenous steroid hormone commonly produced by the adrenal cortex and the gonads (ovaries and testes).
The hormone has two main functions: maintaining the uterus during pregnancy and regulating the menstrual cycle. Research also indicates that progesterone increases thyroid hormones.
Different Body Shapes as Determined by Hormone Levels & How to Manage Them
Besides the organs and systems mentioned above, oestrogen and progesterone also play a role in determining women’s body shapes. Both hormones perform their task of developing female characteristics (larger breasts, wider hips) mostly by changing where the fat is distributed within the body. Thus, it can be said that, in theory, altering the hormone balance can also affect a woman’s fat storage and, therefore, her body shape.
Studies have found that a pear-shaped body is related to excessive oestrogen. This condition is called oestrogen dominance.
Too much oestrogen has been linked to fat accumulation in the abdominal area, leading to more weight at the hips and, thus, a pear-shaped body. Moreover, oestrogen dominance is a risk factor for obesity and endometrial cancer.
Oestrogen is a compound in many of the foods we eat, so obtaining too much of it is unfortunately quite easy. This article lists some of the diet or lifestyle changes you can do to balance your oestrogen levels:
- Keep your liver healthy.
- Improve your digestive system with probiotics.
- Add fibre to your diet.
- Consume organic products with minimum exposure to hormone additives.
- Choose foods with low oestrogen levels (pomegranate, flaxseeds, pears, apples, berries, wheat germ, oats, barley).
- Limit your intake of unfermented soy products, like tofu and soy milk.
- Avoid exposure to xenoestrogens (environmental oestrogens) from plastics, cosmetics and birth control pills.
- When it’s under a lot of stress, your body will use progesterone to produce the stress hormone, cortisol, which can leave an excess of oestrogens. Sufficient sleep can help with not only managing stress, but also increasing the melatonin hormone that combats oestrogen dominance.
Unexplained weight gain or loss
Since excessive oestrogen means a lack of progesterone and too much oestrogen causes obesity, there is an indication that progesterone can help women to lose weight. At the same time, this statement wouldn’t be entirely correct because the thyroid hormone can control metabolism better than progesterone.
As mentioned above, progesterone can add to the thyroid levels. People would think that hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) is related to weight loss, but the condition also increases appetite in a person. As a result, some hyperthyroid patients gain weight instead.
Meanwhile, its opposite, hypothyroidism, generally associates with weight gain. According to American Thyroid Association, the weight increase originates from an accumulation of salt and water.
If you have thyroid disease-induced weight gain or loss, the best solution to this problem is to contact a doctor so you can start the treatment immediately.
We have learned now that hormone levels can determine the body shape of a woman. We know now that we can attain the body shape we favour by changing our hormones through diet or lifestyle changes. In addition, by altering these hormones, we can avoid suffering from some conditions and diseases and achieve overall health.
This is an adaptation of an article, “Estrogen Can Determine Your Body Shape”, which first appeared on Eu Yan Sang website.
- Science Daily. 2018. Why The ‘Perfect’ Body Isn’t Always Perfect: How Hormones Interact With Waist-to-hip Ratios In Women [Accessed 22 February 2022]
- National Center for Biotechnology Information. 2020. Estrogen [Accessed 22 February 2022]
- National Center for Biotechnology Information. 2021. Physiology, Progesterone [Accessed 22 February 2022]
- National Center for Biotechnology Information. 2012. Catch It Before It Kills: Progesterone, Obesity, and the Prevention of Endometrial Cancer [Accessed 22 February 2022]
- National Center for Biotechnology Information. 2015. Progesterone Upregulates Gene Expression in Normal Human Thyroid Follicular Cells [Accessed 23 February 2022]
- American Thyroid Association. 2015. Thyroid and Weight [Accessed 23 February 2022]
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