Supposedly, science has proven that birth control does not make women gain weight. As a woman who began taking the pill without any dietary and exercise changes and suddenly gained 15 pounds, and then just as suddenly lost that weight when I ceased taking the pill, I must disagree. However, that doesn’t change that I have three kids, one of which is a newborn, and I do not want a fourth pregnancy right now. While I realize getting pregnant makes you gain more weight than any birth control, I still would prefer not be 15 pounds heavier. This left me with a question many women have, “Is there birth control that doesn’t make you gain weight?”
First, why would birth control make you gain weight?
Studies aside, birth control options, such as the pill and the depo-shot, contain hormones. Those hormones are going to affect every woman differently. Some women may lose weight, others may gain, and some may have no change at all. This goes for any possible effect of hormonal imbalance, because if your hormone balance was normal prior to taking birth control, you imbalanced it by opting for hormone-based options. To support this, women who had a severe hormonal imbalance prior to pregnancy, such as that caused by PCOS, are those that usually lose weight on hormonal birth control, as they are “balanced” by the pill.
So, which birth control won’t make you gain weight?
Your only safe bet is to choose options that do not rely on hormones to prevent pregnancy. This would include male and female condoms, cervical caps, diaphragms and other cervical shields, spermicides, and contraceptive sponges. You can also opt for natural planning methods, where you avoid sex while ovulating; however, this method’s effectiveness hinges on your ability to pinpoint when you are fertile. None of these options have any chance of weight gain.
Some IUDs also do not implement hormones. Some women report weight gain even with the non-hormonal IUD, so this would fall into a try-it-and-see category. I’ll also note that hormone options, such as the pill, mini-pill, patch, and vaginal ring, have different hormone balances. You may find that some hormone-based options do not alter your weight, while others do. For example, I used the regular birth control pill without weight gain, while the mini-pill did cause weight gain for me. Keep in mind that not all options are safe while breast feeding, and, as a side note, breast feeding does not prevent pregnancy.
I’m not saying it’s a fact that any method of birth control will make you gain weight, as noted studies actually disagree on this point. The above is simply a logic-based look at sure-fire no weight gain methods of preventing pregnancy and some explanation as to why others may.
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Contraceptive Methods: Risks and Information
Birth Control Recall: How Safe is Your Plan?
Becoming Pregnant While on the Birth Control Pill