Birth Control and Weight Gain: Truth or Myth?

Is there really a connection between birth control and weight gain? In a recent survey, 50% of all women believed that birth control pills would cause unwanted weight gain. 20% of these women stated that this belief was the main reason that they would not use oral contraceptives. There is also evidence that women change methods or contraception or stop taking the pill because they believe it contributes to weight gain. The good news, however, is that the review found no evidence of an accidental link between combined contraceptives or birth control and weight gain.

Researchers have found that it is difficult to demonstrate a link between birth control and weight gain. While many women gain weight after starting oral contraceptives, it is hard to say whether this weight gain is actually caused by the pill or other lifestyle factors. In most cases, women taking oral contraceptives report weight gain of 5 pounds or less. Only a small percentage of women experience more than 10 pounds of weight gain after prescribing birth control pills. Any weight gain or loss associated with using birth control pills is said to be a side effect that occurs within three months of starting your prescription. Some studies have shown that while the pill can add a few pounds initially through water retention, the extra weight disappears as the body adapts to the hormones.

Another study found no difference between women who took hormonal contraceptives and those who took a placebo. The other studies looked at women who took different types and doses of hormonal contraception and came to the same conclusion.

The claim may have had some truth many years ago when the pill contained high levels of estrogen. Hormones that cause water retention and increased appetite. Nowadays, most versions of the pill only have half the amount found in previous versions.

There is another factor that has nothing to do with the pill. It is a fact that most women in the Western world start birth control as teenagers and continue through the age of 20. During this time, women naturally tend to gain weight. In addition, women who expect to gain weight after starting birth control pills may subconsciously change their eating and exercise habits. However, if a woman has tried different types of contraception and has been unsuccessful in controlling unwanted weight gain through diet and exercise, she should ask her doctor if insulin resistance contributes to their problems. A simple blood test can determine the presence of this condition. If a woman suffers from insulin resistance, a low-carbohydrate diet may be required to stabilize her weight. Any weight gain after starting taking pills with more than 5% of your body weight can be a signal of a woman’s tendency towards insulin resistance or abnormal glucose metabolism. With this amount of weight gain associated with an oral contraceptive, a woman should be examined for possible insulin resistance. If this condition is present, she must follow a low-carb diet. Simple sugars in any amount and snacks or high-carb meals negate all other dietary efforts daily and thwart any long-term weight control ability.

In most cases, unwanted weight gain associated with birth control can be prevented by paying special attention to diet and exercise, or simply switching to another form of contraception. The link between birth control and weight gain can sometimes be overkill, and it’s time to break those myths.

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