Does Birth Control Make You Gain Weight: 101 Guide

Does birth control make you gain weight? This is one of the most often asked questions concerning birth control. It is a major factor in why many women say they stopped using birth control or changed their methods.

Birth control pills are a type of birth control drug that is classified as hormonal contraceptives. The fundamental idea behind them is to prevent a woman’s body from naturally releasing the hormones 1that cause ovulation or the release of an egg.

Fertilization 2cannot take place if no egg is released. It is a matter of concern for women whether the birth control methods they are using are making them gain weight or not.

1. How Does a Birth Control Method Work?

  • By obstructing the sperm’s path to the egg.
  • By halting the egg’s release from your ovary.
  • By harming the sperm to prevent them from swimming to the egg.
  • By thickening the cervical mucus3.
  • By reducing the uterine lining’s thickness so that an egg cannot implant in the uterus.

2. Combined Oral Contraceptives (COC)

The most popular kind of birth control pills is combination contraceptives. In combined oral contraceptives the typical estrogen component is coupled with progestins 4of a different generation that have various levels of androgenic and progestogenic potential.

Progestin component and dose of estrogen and progestin component are used to determine the recommended combination based on desired effects, risk of side events, and dose.

The combined pill may increase appetite, which can also result in weight gain. Most adults are often unaware of this fact. As a result, it is recommended that you speak with your healthcare provider.

What Are The Effects of Combined Hormonal Contraceptives?

  • Headache
  • Weight gain
  • Irregular periods
  • Low sex drive
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating or nausea
  • Sensitive breasts
  • Mood swings due
  • Change in hormone levels

3. Depo-Provera and Weight Gain

The only type of birth control linked to weight gain in research is the injection of Depot medroxyprogesterone acetate commonly known as Depo-Provera5. This is because a high dose of progestin must be administered all at once and last for three months.

To prevent conception, the body collaborates with the hormone progestin found in the injection of Depo-Provera.

How Does Depo-Provera Work?

Depo-Provera thickens the cervical mucus and prevents the eggs from leaving the ovaries. Pregnancy can be avoided by separating the sperm from the eggs.

Changes in your menstrual cycle, swelling, weight gain, headaches, and lumps or dimples where the injection was administered are all possible side effects of Depo-Provera.

4. Weight Gain Due to Fluid Retention

Progestin-only contraceptives, if they are taken for a long duration tend to cause fluid retention in the body therefore they make you gain weight. Fluid or water retention can also be caused by an increase in estrogen levels.

However, the weight gain is not that drastic. Some pill users have a higher risk of weight gain while some do not. The increase in weight can be dealt with well by doing exercise.

After using progestin-only pills for six months to a year, participants in the research found that they had gained less than 5 pounds. In the end, birth control is not anticipated to cause a major difference in weight.

5. Does Birth Control Make You Gain Weight?

Do Birth Control Pills Cause Weight Gain?

5.1. Effect of IUDs on Weight Gain

To prevent pregnancy, a tiny contraceptive device called an intrauterine device (IUD) is inserted into the uterus.

There are different types of IUDs such as hormonal IUDs6, Copper IUDs, and levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine systems.

5.2. Hormonal IUD

A hormonal IUD is a tiny T-shaped piece of flexible plastic. Over several years, the hormonal IUD gradually releases a small quantity of the progestin hormone into your body. The hormone progesterone, which our bodies naturally produce, is remarkably similar to progestin.

While you’re using the IUD, the hormones in the device can aid with painful or lengthy periods as well as pregnancy prevention.

5.3. Copper IUD

A copper IUD is a little device with a plastic frame and a fine copper wire wrapped around it. It is inserted there to stop pregnancies.

The IUD is fastened using a delicate nylon thread, which exits via the cervix and enters the top of the vagina.

Can These IUDs Contribute to Weight Variation

The majority of researchers concur that it is unlikely that using hormonal contraception causes significant weight gain. People frequently acquire weight over time as they mature.

The use of contraceptives may be blamed for weight gain, but it may also be the result of a natural rise in body fat or muscle.

While some hormonal IUD users claim to gain weight, others claim weight loss. Consequently, weight change is a potential side effect of several hormonal contraceptives.

It is challenging to draw a straight connection between birth control and the problem because women tend to acquire weight as they become older.

6. Can Birth Control Pills Affect Your Muscle Mass?

Two groups of women between the ages of 18 and 31 were studied in new research: 34 who were using oral contraception and 39 who weren’t.

All were physically fit and engaged in a 10-week resistance training program (three times per week), which included measurements of their body composition before and after the program.

Compared to those on the pill, women who did not use oral contraceptives gained more muscle mass—more than 60% more.

Oral contraceptive use hinders young women’s ability to acquire muscle. The androgenic progestin, which may bind to the androgen receptor and block its action, may be responsible for the reduced lean mass increase.

Some women also reported an increase in their body fat percentage. Although, this can be purely hypothetical.

7. What Are The Effects of Birth Control on Your Menstrual Cycle?

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and menstrual cramp relief are two benefits of the combination pill, which can also lessen bleeding.

Even though irregular bleeding and spotting between periods can happen to some people, they are more likely to have these side effects when taking the hormone pill, and they usually stop after the first few months.

8. Can Birth Control Affect Your Mental Health?

Birth control affects mood too. It often results in mood swings. Depression is a side effect that some users of hormonal birth control, including those who use the pill, the patch, or hormonal intrauterine devices (IUDs), report experiencing.

You can consult your healthcare provider about changing techniques or utilizing a non-hormonal birth control alternative when adverse effects are severe enough to reduce the quality of life.

Some birth control tablets contain lower amounts of hormones than others. Changing to a low-hormone approach might lessen the negative effects.

9. Are There Any Long-Term Effects of Birth Control?

Although they are uncommon, birth control methods may have some long-term effects such as blood clots, irregular periods, headaches, heart attack, stroke, breast cancer, cervical cancer, and extending the time it takes to become pregnant.

You run the chance of developing additional adverse effects such as liver tumours, heart attacks, and blood clots if you have a medical history.

So, the bottom line is that long-term birth control use is generally safe. Rarely do serious issues arise. Additionally, once you stop using birth control, your likelihood of becoming pregnant remains unaffected.

10. Lifestyle Factors That Can Affect Weight

Most people experience weight gain due to their lifestyle too. Sometimes it has nothing to do with the birth control methods they are using. Some common lifestyle factors that can cause weight gain are:

  • Genetics
  • Processed foods
  • Lack of exercise
  • Side effects of pharmaceutical drugs
  • High intake of sugar
  • Age
  • Ethnicity

11. How to Avoid Gaining Weight While on Birth Control?

One of the typical side effects of various birth control options is weight gain. You might need to take action if you start gaining weight after starting birth control or any other options. Some common ways to control your weight gain are:

  • Regular exercise
  • Having a balanced diet
  • Check your calorie intake
  • Do not take the stress
  • Talk to your healthcare provider
  • Changing your birth control method

12. What Are the Best Birth Control Options to Avoid Weight Gain

12.1. Barrier Methods:

These typically have fewer adverse effects but are less effective than hormone methods at preventing pregnancy.

However, they don’t contribute to weight gain. Condoms, cervical caps, diaphragms, sponges, and spermicides are some of the commonly used barrier methods.

12.2. Sterilization:

One of the most practical birth control methods is permanent contraception or sterilization, but only if you are certain you don’t want children in the future as this birth control method is irreversible.

For female sterilization, tubal ligation is used, and for male sterilization, vasectomy.

13. Tips For Teens

There are several different birth control methods available to teens. Pregnancy is prevented by many hormonal and non-hormonal methods of contraception. However, the only way to avoid STIs is to use condoms.

STI testing is offered by organizations like Planned Parenthood, which also offers free and inexpensive contraceptives.

Final Note

To answer the query does birth control make you gain weight, the whole story is that, if any, the birth control pill’s impact on weight is minimal.

Instead, you might retain water, which can make you feel as though you have birth control weight gain, especially in your thighs, breasts, and hips. Adipose cells do become larger, but not more numerous, as a result of the estrogen in birth control tablets.

You should always seek professional medical advice before starting a birth control method.

  1. Chainy, Gagan BN, and Dipak Kumar Sahoo. “Hormones and oxidative stress: an overview.” Free Radical Research 54.1 (2020): 1-26. ↩︎
  2. Seleiman, Mahmoud F., et al. “Nano-fertilization as an emerging fertilization technique: Why can modern agriculture benefit from its use?.” Plants 10.1 (2020): 2. ↩︎
  3. Lacroix, Guillaume, et al. “The cervicovaginal mucus barrier.” International journal of molecular sciences 21.21 (2020): 8266. ↩︎
  4. Ata, Baris, et al. “Progestins for pituitary suppression during ovarian stimulation for ART: a comprehensive and systematic review including meta-analyses.” Human Reproduction Update 27.1 (2021): 48-66. ↩︎
  5. Tasker, Carley, et al. “Depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (Depo-Provera) administration increases cervical CCR5+ CD4+ T cells and induces immunosuppressive milieu at the cervicovaginal mucosa: a 3-month longitudinal study.” AIDS (London, England) 34.5 (2020): 729. ↩︎
  6. Turok, David K., et al. “Levonorgestrel vs. copper intrauterine devices for emergency contraception.” New England Journal of Medicine 384.4 (2021): 335-344. ↩︎

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Vaishali Garia

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