All contraceptives come with varying degrees of risk and side-effects, one of them being weight gain. But some contraceptives have fewer or more weight-associated side effects than others do. Of course, birth control methods are constantly being studied, developed and improved upon, so it’s always smart to do your research and ask your doctor about the newest forms on the market.
1. Oral Contraceptives
Many doctors caution one of the side-effects of oral contraceptives – “the pill” – is an increase in weight. This occurs in approximately 5% to 10% of women. The exact cause of this weight gain is difficult to pinpoint. Some believe it is due to the way the excess estrogen in oral contraceptives causes the body to retain water. Others state they stimulate appetite and thus you eat more, causing you to gain weight. It could easily be a combination of the two.
Truth be told, the percentage of women reporting weight gain on the pill has dropped significantly since its creation. The first form of the pill released to the public contained much higher hormone levels than oral contraceptives do today. For the 5% to 10% of women who report weight gain, another 5% to 10% report weight loss, primarily due to nausea and lack of appetite.
2. Contraceptive Injections
These injections, such as Depo Provera, are generally given every few months in lieu of receiving contraceptive pills. These injections are thought to help battle certain forms of ovarian or uterus cancer. However, injections also come with a 70% likelihood of weight gain. Women report a weight gain of between 5 and 10 pounds after a single year of use.
3. Contraceptive Patch
The birth control patch is a small patch placed on the body and changed once a week, for three weeks straight. On the fourth week, the patch is removed. Even according to some of the brand-name companies, many women say they gained up to 30 pounds while using the patch. This is very likely due to the fact that the patch contains over 60% more estrogen than contraceptive pills do.
4. Intra-Uterine Device (IUD)
An IUD, like a contraceptive ring, is placed directly into the vagina and releases hormones. Like the patch, it’s used for three weeks and removed so the body can have its menstrual cycle. It is a newer form of birth control and results have varied on the effects it has on weight. Many people notice no change at all, while some report weight gain – as much as 20 pounds over two years – and others, weight loss. Not only that, but some claim that losing weight while using an IUD has proven more difficult than usual.
Talk with your doctor about the effects of whatever birth control you’re considering. Also ask if she knows what kind of woman reported such results. For instance, many people who claim weight gain as a side effect from contraceptives are over 150 pounds in weight. You may fall into a category where side effects are even more minimal.