When taking birth control or oral contraceptives, as with anything that changes the way your body functions, you’ll need to know the answers to some very serious questions. For instance, does taking birth control lead to additional weight gain? Do birth control pills lead to water retention, or interfere with the body’s normal interactions with estrogen? These questions are at the core of the side effects of birth control, and worth exploring in greater detail to anyone considering taking it—especially hormonal birth control.
Does Birth Control Make You Gain Additional Weight Breakdown?
To answer the first question off the bat, extensive reviews of birth control methods like oral contraceptives have found that hormonal birth control’s relationship with weight gain is difficult to establish. It’s true that older types of birth control methods and oral contraceptives in the past had higher levels of estrogen and progestin, which could potentially lead to issues like gaining weight. However, birth control has evolved over time, leading to different and potentially milder side effects.
For starters, individual response to birth control will always vary. And there may be some water weight fluctuations that come with birth control options like these. For the most part, some fluid retention will be generally harmless, although if you’re concerned about these issues, you should certainly talk them over with your healthcare provider.
Understanding Different Forms of Birth Control
Hormonal contraceptives are only one type of birth control. The truth is, issues like weight loss and weight changes can be avoided depending on the style of birth control you seek out. Let’s explore some of these forms of birth control so you can better understand them:
- IUD. An IUD, or Intrauterine Device. is a small device implanted into the uterus designed to prevent pregnancy. Intrauterine devices have obvious differences to contraceptive pills in that you won’t be taking contraceptives overally. However, some IUDs do come with hormones, so this is not always a hormone-free method of birth control. Copper IUDs may not have hormones. These are reversible devices too, meaning that when you want to begin having a family, you have that option.
- Birth control pills. This is a wide-ranging category, which makes it hard to rate it as the “best birth control” option, as you will want to consult with a professional health care provider to ensure that you’re using the best options for your specific situation. Birth control pills can come in the form of combination pills, which have both estrogen and progestin, or progestin-only pills, which are less common. The hormones in birth control pills work by preventing ovulation, which in turn prevents a pregnancy from taking place.
- Diaphgram. The diaphragm is a small, flexible cup that can be put inside the vagina during sexual intercourse. This covers the cervix to prevent pregnancy, rather than preventing ovulation or interfering with the menstrual cycle.
These are just a preview of the different types of birth control available. Other types, such as the vaginal ring, also can interfere with the fertilization process. However, for those concerned about the birth control pill’s effects on weight gain, it helps to focus in on combined oral contraceptives and their potential influence on the body.
How Might Birth Control Make Someone Gain Weight?
Not all forms of birth control have the same effects on women’s health or lead to weight gain. The primary concern for women isn’t whether a device like an IUD or a diaphragm is going to lead to weight gain—although an IUD may have hormones that affect the body. For many women, the primary concern is the effects of combined oral contraceptives on their long-term fertility and their overall health.
The truth about oral contraceptives and weight gain is complicated. The first question is: will hormones cause permanent weight gain or not? Most sources will likely tell you that oral contraceptives don’t cause permanent weight gain, as weight can fluctuate up and down over the long run. However, some birth control methods may directly lead to weight gain, such as medroxyprogesterone, according to GoodRX.
Another question is: what type of weight gain is this? Is it water weight, or do some people put on body fat as a result of taking birth control pills? Water weight fluctuations can be normal and even part of everyday life, being diet-dependent. Longer-term weight gain is typically the result of increased body fat.
You do have to be careful about the feelings of excess water causing bloating, which in turn adds to the “feeling” of weight gain.
Hormones will affect different processes in your body, which is important for anyone to consider. Non-hormonal birth control doesn’t have these same effects, but will have other trade-offs that you’ll want to weigh as you consider your options. While it’s possible you will experience weight gain as a result of taking birth control, individual responses always vary. Some other common side effects to hormonal birth control methods, for example, include migraines.
Why Does Birth Control Make Someone Gain Weight?
There is some thought that the hormones in birth control increase appetite and water retention, leading to the changes in body fat and body weight over time. It’s also possible that this relationship isn’t yet fully understand—hormones do have an effect on appetite, and not always in predictable ways.
To better understand your body and what it goes through when taking birth control, you’re going to want to know everything involved. Taking pills with estrogen and progestin can stop ovulation, and there can be side effects to the dramatic changes going on in your body to make this happen. That’s why it’s important to talk these side effects over with a licensed medical professional before you seek birth control. Understand what goes on in your body and you’ll have a better chance of knowing the best path forward for you in your particular journey.
Schedule your next birth control exam and more at Great City Medical today!