Birth control in one form or another has been around since antiquity, but it was only in the 20th century that it became safe, effective, and widely available. Beyond its core function of preventing an unplanned pregnancy, birth control medication has been additionally used for the treatment of menstruation symptoms and some health conditions specific to women. Yet as useful—and in some ways life-changing—as birth control can be, there are also some possible side effects. One side effect some women have experienced is weight gain.
Birth control (also known as contraception) is a fairly broad term that can refer to a variety of different approaches. Women (and men) now have numerous methods of birth control to choose from that fit different bodies, lifestyles, and stages of life. Below is a list of some of the most common types of birth control:
The wide variety of birth control methods give women many options for meeting their personal needs and lifestyle preferences. For the most part, non-hormonal birth control has few side effects other than occasional irritation related to the insertion of a device or barrier. Hormonal birth control, on the other hand, has been shown to cause mild nausea, headaches, breast tenderness, decreased sex drive, missed periods, or mood changes. These side effects are largely a factor of oral contraceptives that are taken daily.
One other side effect of birth control that some women have reported is weight gain. Researchers have looked into whether there is a connection between birth control pills and weight gain, but so far there is no real evidence for a strong link. Rather, the reason some women experience weight gain is related to the effects of progestin and estrogen; these hormones have been known to cause the body to retain more salt than normal. This can then lead to additional water to be drawn into tissues around the body and create a feeling of bloating. This kind of fluid retention can also cause body weight to be temporarily higher.
There is also some evidence for weight gain related to two other forms of birth control: the birth control implant and the birth control shot. In a study of the medroxyprogesterone acetate injection, women gained an average of 11 pounds and 3.4% more body fat over a period of three years. Research into the birth control implant showed an average gain of three pounds over a similar time frame. In both cases, doctors can’t currently explain why the weight gain occurred, and therefore more research is needed.
The bottom line: research indicates that most weight gain associated with birth control can be explained by water retention due to an increase in levels of estrogen and progestin in the body. This is normal, however, and will most likely go away over time. Extra water weight can be somewhat mitigated by minor lifestyle changes like drinking more water, consuming less salt, and increasing regular physical activity levels. In cases where bloating or swelling are especially unwelcome, diuretics can also cause the body to excrete more water through the urine.
The truth is that most weight gain of any significant amount is more likely to be the result of consuming more calories than are burned through exercise and normal bodily functions. This is the main reason why over 40% of adults in the United States are either overweight or obese. At the same time, more people than ever are attempting to lose weight, usually by adopting strict diets or unsustainable exercise regimens.
If you’ve been attempting to lose weight through traditional methods without much success, you’re not alone. At True You Weight Loss, we understand the challenges of the weight loss journey, and we want to help you find a new path with a new approach. Our non-surgical weight loss procedures are designed to help you finally find the freedom you’ve been seeking by offering long-term solutions that help you lose weight and keep it off. If you’d like to learn more about what we offer and how we can help, please contact us today to request a consultation.