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Pill Talk: Will Birth Control Pills Make Me Gain Weight?

December 3, 2020

Worried that being on the pill could cause you to gain some extra kilos? This guide explains why you should take a chill pill.

Birth control pills can be a blessing, saving you from clocking your ovulation window, scrambling for last-minute condoms and worrying over heat-of-the-moment oopsies. But they can also come with their fair share of psychological baggage. If you’re more er, cherubic than you were before you started birth control pills, it’s natural to wonder whether your contraception has anything to do with your weight gain. While it’s possible, it’s more likely that your unwanted kilos are souvenirs from all those late night dinners and overindulgent Sunday brunches you may have conveniently forgotten about.

How Do Birth Control Pills Work?

Birth control pills are oral contraceptives that work by tricking the body into believing it is already pregnant. Pills release a profusion of estrogen into the body, mimicking the estrogen mechanism during pregnancy. In turn, the excess oestrogen triggers the production of a compound known as renin-angiotensin in the kidneys, which stimulates water retention. Usually, the degree of water retention is directly proportional to the quantity of oestrogen in the pill.

What Is the Link Between Birth Control Pills and Weight Gain?

Multiple studies have shown no direct connection between birth control pills and weight gain. However, there are some birth control-related factors associated with weight gain.

Fluid Retention

While some women do put on a little weight as a result of starting birth control pills, this is usually due to fluid retention, with the extra kilos on the weighing scale disappearing within two to three months.

Increased Appetite

There is another reason that may equally cause you to pile on the kilos – a curiously increased appetite. If you find yourself indulging in second and third helpings, it may have something to do with your birth control pills serving as appetite stimulators. If you’re nodding in silent resignation, seek comfort in knowing that you can still keep your weight in check by making smart diet choices. Replace the second helping of rice with a hearty portion of salad, or another slice of pizza with a nice warm serving of soup. In general, appetite stimulation is more common in women with abnormal glucose metabolism.

Elevated Insulin Levels

Birth control pills can sometimes increase insulin levels, resulting in impaired processing of sugary and starchy foods. The result? Inordinate weight gain.

Okay, So What If I Gain Weight On Birth Control Pills?

If you are one of the rare few that notices a weight increase due to birth control pills, voice your concerns to your doctor. You may be able to put an end to your weighty problems by taking a different type of birth control pill. You see, not every pill is made the same way. While some contain estrogen and progestin, others are completely progestin. And while estrogen itself is usually of the same type across pills, progestin comes in varying types, causing a variety of side effects. Remember, it’s important to give your body time to adjust to birth control pills. Observe your symptoms for at least three months before meeting your doctor.

If you’ve always looked at birth control pills as extra baggage – literally – it’s worth discussing with your doctor about the pill best suited for you. With the right pill, you can save yourself from stress and surprises, and keep your weight from tipping over the edge.

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