How to Choose the Right Contraceptives for Weight Concerns

Many women who are trying to lose weight are also concerned about preventing pregnancy with reliable contraceptives. With an ever-expanding list of contraceptive options, how can you choose the right contraceptives for weight loss and management?

Hormone-Free Choices

Hormone-free contraceptive options are the best bet for avoiding weight changes related to contraceptives. If you are very sensitive to hormonal weight gain, consider avoiding hormones altogether.

Barrier Methods

Condoms, the diaphragm and the FemCap are hormone-free barrier methods often used with a spermicidal gel. Condoms provide the added bonus of protection against certain sexually transmitted diseases. The diaphragm is a dome that fits in your vagina. You should have your diaphragm resized after childbirth or a weight change of 15 lbs. The correct size of FemCap is directed by your pregnancy and childbirth history.


The ParaGard IUD is a copper T-shaped device that fits inside your uterus. Your health care provider will place it at an office visit. ParaGard is more than 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. ParaGard can stay in for 10 years, but can also be removed at anytime you wish to become pregnant.

Hormonal Contraceptive Choices

Contraceptives that contain hormones provide effective birth control but are not without risks. Some women are at risk of getting a blood clot or having a stroke with estrogen-based contraceptives. Weight gain is a potential side effect of all hormonal options.

The Pill, the Patch and the Ring

The estrogen and progestins found in most birth control pills, the Ortho Evra Patch, and the NuvaRing are very effective at preventing pregnancy and allow women to have regular, predictable periods. Some women are sensitive to these hormones and notice weight gain. If you notice weight gain, try to make sure you are drinking plenty of water, exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet that is full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. While there is only one brand of patch and one brand of ring, there are numerous brands and dosages of birth control pills, so if you notice weight gain, consult with your health care provider to narrow down the options to find the best choice for you.


The Mirena is an IUD that releases a progestin hormone to thin the uterine lining. You will likely experience changes to your menstrual cycle with the Mirena. Some women notice weight gain with the Mirena, but many do not. The Mirena is 99% effective at preventing pregnancy and can stay in for 5 years.

Depo Provera

Depo Provera is a progestin shot that works to thin your uterine lining. You get your shot every 12 weeks. Main side effects include irregular bleeding and weight gain. While not all women on Depo Provera gain weight, many do. While the pill, patch and ring can be discontinued immediately if you have unpleasant side effects, Depo Provera takes weeks to work out of your system. If weight gain is a concern to you, be sure to discuss it with your health care provider before starting Depo Provera.


Implanon is a match-stick size rod that is placed under the skin in your upper arm and releases a hormone that thins your uterine lining. Implanon can stay in for 3 years. Main side effects include menstrual cycle changes. About 5% of women will notice a weight gain of 2 to 4 lbs over the first couple of years.



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