There is a lot of controversy regarding weight loss or fat loss and birth control. Many doctors will argue that birth control has no effect on weight or body composition, but birth control users seem to think otherwise. If you have been unsuccessful in losing weight no matter how hard you have tried, your birth control may very well be the culprit.
Let’s look at birth control a little more closely. There are two main types of birth control – estrogen-based and progestin-only. These two types of birth control can come in the form of a pill, ring, patch, injection, rod or IUD. Hormonal birth control works by stopping the ovaries from releasing an egg each month (preventing ovulation) and by making the environment unfit to implant an egg properly, making your body think that you are in fact pregnant. Since your body now thinks that you are pregnant, it prepares itself by storing what? That’s right, extra fat. Excess fat from birth control is usually stored in your lower body (hips & butt) and in your triceps.
Doctors and scientists argue that birth control does not make you gain weight or excess body fat, but that the pill increases your appetite and cravings therefore you eat more food which contributes to weight gain.
If you are someone who is serious about eating clean, gaining muscle mass and shedding body fat, but you are struggling to make improvements, your birth control may be to blame. A recent study was done on the effects of birth control and lean muscle mass. The study showed that women that took hormonal birth control gained 60% less muscle mass over a 10 week period than women who did not take birth control. You can find the study here.
Hormonal birth control is no doubt one of the best ways to prevent pregnancy, and there are good and bad side effects that come with it. Some of the negative side effects include acne, tiredness, breast tenderness, weight gain, breakthrough bleeding and spotting between periods, nausea and vomiting, changes in your eyes that make it more difficult to wear contact lenses, bloating, headaches, decreased libido, depression or other emotional changes, migraines, breast lumps, high blood pressure (hypertension), high cholesterol, blood clots, heart attack, stroke, liver damage, gallstones and jaundice. The benefits of hormonal birth control are reduced cancer risk, acne prevention, reduction in abdominal pain and PMS symptoms, regular menstrual cycles and decreased endometriosis symptoms.
Some people can lose weight very easily while on birth control without any problem, and some struggle tremendously. It all comes down to the individual and their body. What works for one person may not work for another. If you are on the pill and you are finding weight gain a problem, then talk to your doctor about swapping to a lower dose pill, or try another form of hormonal contraception. If you want to skip the hormones all together, maybe give a non-hormonal contraceptive a try, like the copper IUD. At the end of the day it all comes down to your body and how your body responds to hormones.
I would love to hear your experience, has birth control made a difference in your weight?