Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Do birth control pills make women gain weight?"
I want to take birth control to protect myself but I'm afraid of gaining weight. What are my options?
There are many different options for birth control measures, not just pills, and your primary care physician and gynecologist can discuss these options with you in detail. There are two main kinds of oral contraceptive pills (OCPs): a combined oral pill with progesterone and estrogen and a progesterone only or mini-pill. These are pills that you must take everyday except for 5-7 days at the end of the cycle in which you take placebo pills and experience menstrual blood flow. This method affects your body's hormonal levels. There are many different OCPs, each with different levels of estrogen and varying kinds of progesterone. Many women think that birth control pills cause them to gain weight. However, various studies have shown that hormonal birth control pills do not cause an increase in weight, though the estrogen component can make fat cells larger (but does not cause an increase in the number of adipose cells). It is possible to retain more water, making if feel as if you have gained more weight. Each pill has its own benefits and disadvantages and you should ask your physician which pill would be most beneficial for you. Other forms of birth control include implantables and injectables (such as Norplant which also are hormonally active), intrauterine devices (also known as IUDs and can be hormonally based or not), and barrier methods such as condoms and diaphragms. There are many different options for contraception, each with benefits and drawbacks, so you should speak with your gynecologist regarding the best option suited for your needs.