Birth Control Pills Cause Weight Gain: Myth or Truth?

Birth control pills

Do birth control pills cause weight gain? I am sure, this question wanders over your mind whenever you think of taking birth control or contraceptive pills. The topic, ‘is it a myth or a fact,‘ has always been a matter of debate over the internet and otherwise. Many studies have been conducted to find out if birth control pills are anyhow associated with weight gain or not. Birth control pills and weight gain are in no way related to each other. This is how…

Does birth control pills really cause weight gain?

The fact is that it does not necessarily cause weight gain in women. The concept of birth control pills started in 1960’s and is highly popular till date. At that time, these pills contained high level of estrogen and progestin (nearly 1000 times more hormones than women need). This was a reason back then, which caused weight gain, because estrogen if consumed at high levels can cause weight gain due to increase in appetite and fluid retention.

Today, contraceptive pills have considerably lesser amount of hormones and does not lead to any weight gain. It may have some minor side effects like bleeding, breast tenderness, nausea, and headache. But these do not remain for long.

In a study conducted in the year 2000, the link between birth control pills and weight gain was estimated as under:

  • 20 to 25 percent women gained more than 2 kg weight.
  • 60 percent of women gained no weight or felt a change of 2kgs only (increase and decrease included).
  • 15 to 20 percent of women in reality lost more or equal to 2 kgs weight.

Besides all this, a review of 44 studies showed no evidence that contraceptive pills cause weight gain in most users. And with other side effects, the minimal weight gain is mostly temporary, which goes away within two to three months.

According to a study done in 1997 by Diffey B, Piers LS, Soares MJ, and O’Deak, contraceptive pill users have 5 per cent higher basic metabolic rate than people who never use it. Another small study done in 2009, concluded that the pill decreased body fat in women who took it.

All these studies set a base for the fact that birth control pills and weight gain are not associated with each other and both have no correlation.

Types and effects of birth control pills

Birth control pills are of two types:

  • Combination pills: contain both estrogen and progestin.
  • Progestin-only pills.

Some of the contraceptive pills use the same type of estrogen in various doses, whereas progestin formulation in each can differ. This means each brand offers different type of hormone in different doses, which results in different side effects. Weight gain, if at all, is a temporary side effect of the pill.

Another way of contraception, which many young women happen to use is injectable hormonal contraceptive like Depo-Provera. Chances of gaining weight with injectable contraceptives is two times more than contraceptive pills.

I hope after reading this article, your misconception about weight gain due to birth control pills is clear. But if by any chance, you have started gaining weight because of pills, talk to your doctor. He may prescribe a different pill for you, as all pills are not the same.

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