Weight Gain And The Contraceptive Pill

Does Using the Pill Affect Your Weight?

There’s no conclusive evidence that using any type of birth control pill will make you gain (or lose) a significant amount of weight. A 2014 review looked at 49 different studies of combined pills and found no evidence that the contraceptive pill causes significant weight gain. A review of 16 studies of the minipill also did not suggest it was a cause of weight gain.

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Medically reviewed by

Dr Babak Ashrafi

Last reviewed: 19 Nov 2028

Why Do Many People Think That the Pill Causes Weight Gain?

The first contraceptive pills were developed back in the 1960s and they contained much higher dosages of the hormones oestrogen and progesterone than modern contraceptive pills.

It’s now known that high doses of oestrogen can lead to water retention and progesterone can lead to an increase in appetite in some women, both of which can lead to weight gain. The combined contraceptive pills available in the 21st century contain much lower doses of both hormones, making such side effects much less likely.

What Are the Possible Causes of Weight Gain on the Pill?

Any fat gain is unlikely to be related to the pill, although there may be a few women who gain weight when they start taking it. One of the reasons you might appear to gain a little weight when you start taking the contraceptive pill is that you could retain more water at certain times of your menstrual cycle than you’re used to, but this shouldn’t be a significant amount of weight, and it’s not permanent. Like some of the other potential side effects of the contraceptive pill, this slight weight gain is a temporary inconvenience and should only last a few months.

Are You More Likely to Gain Weight if You Take the Progestogen-Only Pill?

A review carried out in 2013 looked at 16 different studies into whether different types of progesterone only contraception caused weight gain and found there was not any strong evidence that the progesterone only pill caused weight gain.

Women who used the contraceptive injection gained more weight over a period of one, two and three years compared to a group of women using a non‐hormonal intrauterine device (IUD/Contraceptive coil).

Two studies showed changes of weight in women who used the contraceptive implant, but the quality of the evidence was not reliable.

Despite these findings, there was very little evidence of weight gain in women who used progestogen only contraceptives, and where women did put on weight, the average amount they gained was less than 2 kg over the course of a year.

Do Some Women Lose Weight Taking Oral Contraceptives?

If they do, it’s more likely to be a result of another lifestyle change, rather than simply taking the pill. There were stories in the media about the combined oral contraceptive pill Yasmin when it first became available in 2001, because some women noticed weight loss after starting to take it. The reality was that the weight loss they experienced was most likely water weight, which may have been reduced after switching pills. The progesterone in Yasmin is a different type of synthetic hormone that’s thought to work with your body chemistry and affect any excess sodium and water.Yasmin may have a minor diuretic effect and help to reduce hormonal bloating but it won’t be fat that’s lost, just water.

What Should You Do if You Notice Weight Changes

If you’re feeling uncomfortable about gaining weight and you think it might be because of taking the pill, you can try another type of pill and see if that reverses the weight gain. Speak to your doctor if you would like to switch to a different pill. You doctor will be able to recommend a suitable pill and will make sure there are no other causes for your weight gain. If you think you have not taken your pill properly you should take a pregnancy test to make sure this is not the cause of any new weight gain.


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