Birth Control and Weight: Is There A Connection?

Birth Control and Weight: Is There A Connection?
by Jennifer Elliot | December 19, 2012

Birth control pills are one of the most widely used forms of reversible birth control, with innumerable couples relying on different birth control brands and formulations to prevent pregnancy. Birth control pills are also prescribed by doctors to treat specific menstrual problems, or for the restriction and control of the spread of acne.
Over the years, birth control pills have been associated with various side-effects, some of which have been proved to be true according to research studies, while others have surfaced as popular myths and misconceptions. While the effect of different birth control pills on cholesterol levels and blood pressure has been agreed upon by several experts and researchers, some misconceptions still remain unresolved.
One of the still existing misconceptions about birth control is its effects of the body weight of the user. Many women believe that birth control can tamper with their weight loss plans and result in weight gain. Do research studies agree with this claim, or is it just another mistaken belief about birth control methods?

Where Did This Misunderstanding Originate From?

Back when different birth control pills were introduced in 1960s, the composition of the pills consisted of extremely high levels of estrogen and progesterone. In fact, according to experts at WebMD, hormone levels in the pills were up to 1000 times more than what most women required. These high levels of estrogen could have resulted in weight gain back then, but since then the composition and levels of hormones have been duly adjusted to the correct requirements and according to the experts at Mayo Clinic, weight gain is not one of the side-effects of taking different birth control pills.

Does Birth Control Have Any Effects on Body Weight?

According to Mayo Clinic experts research studies have proved that birth control does not lead to weight gain, or at most it leads to a very slight increase in body weight. Dr. Melissa Conrad Stoppler, M.D., board certified anatomic pathologist from Georgetown University, further explains that if the side effect of a slight increase in body weight does affect some women, the good news is that it tends to subside after a few months.
Mayo Clinic experts further clarify that birth control pills can lead to fluid retention in the body, which can lead many women to think that they have put on excess weight. Fluid retention most commonly affects the breasts, hips and thighs. Moreover, the hormone estrogen does have a slight effect on the fat (adipose) cells of the body. It makes them larger, but it does not cause them to multiply. Hence, the claim that birth control can affect your attempts to follow a weight loss plan is merely a myth.

Additional Guidelines

If you feel that birth control pills have resulted in a significant and obvious weight gain, then it is recommended that you consult your health practitioner. A consultation and check-up might reveal that you need a different type of birth control pill. All the available birth control pills are manufactured with varying formulations of hormones, and your health practitioner will be able to identify a suitable birth control pill for you.

References

Mayo Clinic- Birth Control FAQ
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/birth-control-pill/WO00098/NSECTIONGROUP=2
Medicine Net.com-birth control pills
http://www.medicinenet.com/oral_contraceptives_birth_control_pills/article.htm
WEBMD- Birth control pills and weight gain
http://www.webmd.com/sex/birth-control/birth-control-pills-weight-gain

About the Author - Jennifer Elliot

Jennifer Elliot takes her Nutrition (and yours) very seriously! She believes that the strongest weapon we have against all diseases, ailments and conditions is Nutrition. She also widely promotes the importance of exercise to maintain optimal health. Keep an eye out for Jennifer’s articles to remain updated on how to lead a nutritious life!

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