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Old 02-13-2006, 05:00 PM   #1
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Default Birth Control and Weight

I am not sure where to post this, so I guess I'll start here.

Currently I am on depo provera for birth control. I have been on depo for almost 5 years.

I have been obese most of my life and although I have successfully lost weight in the past, I have found it increasingly difficult since I have been on depo.

I was wondering if anyone here actually had problems with severe weight gain while on depo and/or have had problems losing weight while on depo. Also, if anyone can inform me how depo can cause or contribute to these problems, I would like to know - I am having problems finding info on the net otherwise.
Does switching forms of birth control help with these problems???
I am going to switch to Seasonale next month, mainly because I should get off depo because of the bone density side effects. HAs anyone had problems with weight loss while on Seasonale or any other birth control pill???
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Old 02-13-2006, 05:15 PM   #2
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I also have been obese almost my entire adult life and been on BCP's (a few different kinds - Lo-Estrin mainly) for many years. I lost over 100 pounds about 7 years ago while on BCP's. No problem. I'm on them again now and have been able to lose weight.

I've never been on Depo though. A couple of my friends seemed to gain large amounts of weight after starting Depo. I know their docs told them that a high % of women who start depo do gain a "little" weight the first year. But these gals gained over 30 pounds each in less than 1 year, and had a very hard time losing it. I don't know if it was hormone, diet or related to a combination of the two - and to be honest I don't think they were terribly aware of everything that went into their mouths. Are you tracking your calories and still gaining even when there is a deficit? I hope you can find some answers. How frustrating.
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Old 02-13-2006, 05:19 PM   #3
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I haven't been on it too long, so I can't really say much, but I switched to Seasonale last month. So far so good. Even though I am on it straight for 3 months, the pills themselves are a lower dose of hormones than my previous pill. From what I have heard, hormone doses in current birth control pills shouldn't be enough to really impede weight loss (many years ago they used MUCH higher doses), unless you have some other medical condition/hormone imbalance. If you are finding that being on the pill effects you that way, I would definitely talk to your doctor about it.

So far my only complaint about Seasonale is the cost. It was a good bit pricier than my old pill (but I was on a generic). However, I figure it is well worth the money being able to skip 8 periods a year.

86 pounds down, now for the next bit - fourth short term goal (back to 100 down):
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Old 02-13-2006, 05:22 PM   #4
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Also, I don't know if it is the Seasonale or my improved diet/exercise habits, but my skin has cleared up remarkably in the last month. I didn't have my usual monthly breakout. Since I started everything around the same time, I am not sure what caused the change - but I am pretty happy about it.

86 pounds down, now for the next bit - fourth short term goal (back to 100 down):
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Old 02-13-2006, 05:23 PM   #5
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Well, I can tell you that when I noticed large amounts of weight gain since I started depo, truly the only change was getting the shot - nothing about my lifestyle had changed for better or worse at that time.

I know that I cannot blame my weight on birth control (nor do I want to, I am ready to take responsibility and change my lifestyle), however it just seems that since I have been on it, I have a much more difficult time losing weight and maintaining weight loss - regardless of my lifestyle changes. I just wasn't sure that depo can really contribute to the problem and hopefully, if it does, then switching to a pill will help.
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Old 02-16-2006, 06:28 PM   #6
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I don't know about the shot...could you switch kinds? I'm on the pill, have been for about 5-6 years now (gosh didn't realize that til thinking about it now). Supposedly you gain 5-10 lbs when first starting the pilll, but I didn't notice it if I did at the time. Other than that, it's not supposed to contribute to any more longterm weight loss...just 5-10 when you start, and you would theoretically lose that 5-10 when you stopped. Good luck with it, unless you are thinking about switching kinds there is probably nothing you can do it about it anyways. (kind of like having a slow metabolism, it's a nice excuse but you still have to do all the same things whether it was medically proven or not)
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Old 02-16-2006, 08:42 PM   #7
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Hey bucketgirl, I noticed this post and thought I would see what ya'll were talking about. I was having problems on Ortho.... bc pills - fluid retention, weight gain, sugar cravings, etc. and ended up switching to Yasmine and really like them. I don't have the fluid and swelling and I also no longer crave sugar.

Also I really don't know much about the Depro Provera shots, but this info was posted at my naturalthyroidhormone group and I thought I should at least share this woman's take on them ....

"Depo-provera shot - Very Dangerous

We are reprinting this letter from an articulate young woman named Julie Barter whose life fell apart after she received a series of Depo-Provera shots for birth control. Until she went to an astute chiropractor, she had no idea that the Depo-Provera was causing her symptoms, and neither did the many doctors she went to, in spite of the fact that backache and skin rash are known side effects.

The supposed ease and convenience of this drug as a means of birth control seems to be particularly appealing to Gen-Xers who want quick, easy solutions. They assume it is safe because their doctors will prescribe it. We suspect that many thousands of young women are suffering this way, and hope that Julie's letter will be a wake-up call to both young women and their parents, to stay far away from this terrible drug.

Dear Dr. Lee,

I'm writing this to tell you about my experiences of the last year and a half on Depo-Provera injectable birth control. Before using the Depo-Provera I was a 26-year-old, extremely physically fit woman with no history of medical problems of any sort.

In January of 1998, I was looking for a reliable means of birth control. Being nable to handle any type of birth control pill, I began taking injections of Depo-Provera. My doctor told me it would work for me since it doesn't contain any estrogen, and that I wouldn't have any periods. Having been competing at an elite level in bicycle racing for many years, I didn't really have a menstrual cycle anyway, and decided that not having periods at all wouldn't be such a bad thing.

That was about all the information I was given about the stuff . I thought, no problem. It won't be much different from what is already going on with me.

Everything seemed fine for a number of months. I didn't notice any crazy emotional effects like I had experienced when I tried to take the Pill. My moods seemed totally unaffected. I thought, "Gee, this is great stuff. I don't even go through mood swings around the time of a period because I don't have any periods at all. How convenient."

Unexplained Back Pain

In midsummer, I began to notice that my lower back felt very tired all the time, which I had never experienced before. I'm on my feet and moving around a great deal at work, and by the time I got home and stood in the kitchen to make dinner, I would feel like there was just no comfortable position for my pelvis. My lower back just felt so tired. I just tried to ignore it.

Unexplained Skin Problems

At the same time, I also developed eczema-like skin rashes. I finally went to the doctor because I couldn't restrain myself from scratching. I was scratching myself bloody every night. The sores covered my scalp, neck, and arms, and the worst part was the rash on both my eyelids and on and above my lips. I felt like a monster. The doctor gave me cortisone cream and a prescription moisturizer. I tried these things for a couple weeks, and they didn't put even a dent in the itching or the red, scaly appearance of all the spots.

All this time, I was continuing to take Depo-Provera injections every 13 weeks without ever having any suspicion that it might be related in any way to my troubles.

In early November, I got a "cricky" feeling in my lower back. It felt as though it needed to pop. Usually in the past when I had felt something like that in my lower back, thirty minutes or so of yoga for my legs and back would take care of the problem. This time I stretched every day and tried everything I knew to get my back to move into a comfortable position. It was all to no avail. After ten days or so I thought maybe some weight-bearing exercise would mobilize it back into place, so I went for a run. My back didn't feel
so good toward the end of my run, and by the time I cooled off, I knew that I was in big trouble. I couldn't even stand up straight. I got an adjustment from a chiropractor that gave me quite a bit of relief, but I was so sore and weak from the incident that I was flat on my back for nearly a week after that.

My Life Falls Apart

After that it was just a haze of doctor visits and chiropractor visits and physical therapy visits. The upshot was that my back just wasn't healing. It kept on going out of place without even the slightest provocation. I was continuing to have adjustments, and it just wasn't holding. Throughout this time, I had been missing days of work here and there, and going home early almost every day because my back would be so exhausted by midday that I had to lie down for the rest of the day and evening. Eventually I was unable to sit at all. I had to rig up a standing work station for myself.

I was pretty much debilitated. I couldn't lift anything over about five pounds. I couldn't bend over. I couldn't even lie on the couch. I had a permanent nest laid out on the floor, because that was where I spent most of my time. My athletic endeavors had come to a screeching halt. I had been used to riding my bicycle about 40 miles a day, or running six or seven miles. I couldn't even look at my bike without wincing in pain. I was pretty much handicapped. I couldn't cook or clean and I couldn't even walk for exercise my back hurt so badly.

I took enormous doses of ibuprofen trying to get the inflammation to go down. I used ice. I used glucosamine sulfate. I avoided wheat, dairy and corn products. Nothing helped for long. As time went on, my back pain was not even ameliorated when I would lay down. It ached all the time no matter what, and any type of bending, standing, or moving would bring on much more severe pain.

An Astute Chiropractor Finds the Culprit

I finally went to see a chiropractor named Dean who told me it was absolutely essential for me to get off the Depo-Provera. He made no bones about it. He was very stern and came on very strong about the topic. I was astounded. I couldn't understand how birth control could have anything at all to do with my back.

He said that the hormones in the Depo are not the forms naturally made by the body. They are synthetically altered progestins so that the harmaceutical companies can patent these molecules and thus make a great deal more money from them, since they can't patent a substance found in nature. The problem is that even though these synthetic molecules do bind to the hormone receptors, the body simultaneously recognizes them as foreign substances that need to be eradicated. So the immune system works overtime around the clock trying to get rid of this nasty foreign substance The adrenal glands think it's emergency time all the time, so they pump out the hormone cortisol. Pretty soon, the adrenals are completely exhausted.

In Chinese medicine, the adrenals are on the same circuit as five of the muscles of the lower back. When the adrenals are over-tired, it inhibits these muscles of the lower back. Dean told me that the reason my back wasn't getting any better was because those muscles simply were not firing appropriately. Essentially, there was nothing holding my lower back together, and that's exactly what it felt like.

I Finally Understand What Has Happened

Well, this was quite a shock to me, and quite a bit to chew on. He did, however tell me not to simply take his word for it, but to do a little reading on my own. He recommended your book, What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Premenopause. I devoured the book in a couple of days, and thought it was a very plausible explanation. It also explained my skin problems, my low blood pressure and dizziness problems, as well as the two teeth that had gotten loose in the last year.

I called the pharmacist to find out how long the Depo was going to take to wear off. She told me that it has a half life of 50 days. It takes about four half-lives after one injection for it to undetectable in the body. She told me it reaches its peak concentration in the blood thirty days after an injection and drops from there. That bit of information caught my attention. As I thought
back to my major incidents of back problems, they were all within about 30 days after an injection. Well, that sealed it for me. I had no more doubt that the Depo-Provera was at the root of my problems.

The Healing Begins and I Start to Get My Life Back

I am now about 20 weeks out from my last (ever!) injection of Depo- Provera. I am off the anti-inflammatories. I began to be able to sit again about three weeks ago. I am slowly and gently beginning to ride my bike again. My skin is back to normal. I will be doing abdominal exercises for the rest of my life to help stabilize the permanent damage done to my back, and I'm using a progesterone cream to help get my own hormones back online.

I deeply regret that in my ignorance I poisoned myself. I would like to add that in speaking with other women during this time, there have been three other very young women who have suffered problems like mine or even worse after only a single injection of the Depo. I would like to emphasize as well that all of these women, including myself, are way too young to be suffering back trouble like this without a major traumatic injury.

If, in writing this account, I can help just one other person avoid the suffering caused to me by Depo-Provera, I will consider it time very well spent.

Julie Barter

Last edited by cathyxxx; 02-16-2006 at 08:50 PM.
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Old 03-17-2006, 02:06 PM   #8
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I have been on Depo for 8 years now. Granted that is a long time, but frankly, I am enjoying the No Period thing, No PMS thing adn everything else that goes along with That Time of the Month. The only side effects I have noticed are the weight gain and calcium depletion, both of which are minimal. I think with every drug you take, you have to take it with a grain of salt. Everyone can react differently to drugs. I have actually done some reasearch on Depo and long term effects and while I did see horror storys like the one above, but it seems like the good always outweighs the horrible. If you start Depo and don't like the side effects, dump it and try something else, the same as you would with something as simple as Tylenol.
Anyway, regarding weight gain and Depo, I can tell you that in the 8 years I have taken it, I have gained 20 lbs. I began Depo the day after my daughter was born, so I was still fat from being pregnant (at the day of the delivery, I weighed 192. Being honest and subtracting baby and extras, I think I went back down to around 175. (btw, I am 5'8"). At my highest a few months ago, I was 203. I am currently at 193 and losing. Sure, just a diet alone won't help you lose, just like going to the gym once a week will either. I haven't really cut anything out of my usual diet--I still eat pizza and brownies and all that as I used to, but now in moderation: 1 brownie instead of 2! I go to the gym on my lunch break 4 days a week. I do strength training first, focusing on abs/back/thighs/legs/triceps, then I do 10-15min of cardio,usually upright bike, 9mph, resistance around 4-6. Since 2/2, I have lost 3 1/2 inches (1 from waist, 1 from hip and 1/5 from thigh). Sure, maybe it would be easier to lose w/o Depo, but w/o Depo, I get another baby, and then when would I have time to lose weight? (being facetious here, no one send hate mail calling me a baby-hater )
Hang in there with the birth control thing. Good things never come easy to begin with, and if you lose while on BC, there is just a greater satisfaction of knowing you 'beat the odds' so to speak!

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