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Birth control pills and overweight


Treatment with hormonal drugs and hormonal contraception have become an integral part of the life of modern people due to its effectiveness and ease of use. However, they are almost always accompanied by the development of side effects, among which the most obvious is the gain in excess weight. Losing weight after taking hormones is difficult, but possible.

Reasons for weight gain when taking hormones

There are many factors that can lead to weight gain after taking hormones. The main reasons include:

  1. Increased appetite. Both the reception and the abolition of certain hormones provokes constant hunger. Uncontrolled and erratic eating quickly leads to weight gain.
  2. Violation of metabolic processes and a slowdown in metabolism. The body slows down with carbohydrates and fats from food. Fat deposits and fluid are slowly eliminated from the body.
  3. Hormonal changes. Anxiety, insomnia, weakness, fatigue, drowsiness are constant companions of hormone therapy, which create a favorable environment for weight gain.

But even the same drug can cause different reactions when taken. Some women do not see any changes in appearance, others, on the contrary, begin to gain weight faster during or after taking hormones.

Many women get scared when they are prescribed hormonal contraceptives. They believe in advance that taking drugs will lead to weight gain. But modern contraceptives should not have such a side effect. If such a reaction is observed, then this indicates that the medicine was chosen incorrectly. The specialist must offer another treatment option.

Do birth control pills cause weight gain?

Scientific studies have shown mixed results regarding the possible association of birth control pills, also known as oral contraceptives, with weight gain.

According to the US National Library of Medicine, women can gain weight in the following circumstances:

  • fluid retention in the body,
  • muscle development, because muscles are heavier than fat,
  • increasing the amount of fat in the body.

The scenario according to which women gain weight while taking hormonal contraceptives is more of a purely theoretical nature and does not have a solid scientific basis.

However, even despite the lack of scientific evidence, some women continue to believe that taking combined contraceptives increases their appetite and makes them feel more hungry. It is difficult to take this hypothesis seriously, because even those women who do not take birth control pills can gain weight as they grow older.

Why is it difficult to prove that birth control pills cause excess weight?

Scientists find it difficult to organize large-scale studies that could prove or disprove the theory that oral contraceptives cause weight gain.

In order to conduct such studies, it is necessary to divide a significant number of women into two equal groups, and then to the representatives of one group give birth control pills with hormones, and to the representatives of the second - placebo, that is, birth control pills that do not contain hormones.

Conducting such a study is difficult, because women cannot be sure that they control the prevention of pregnancy. That is why scientific work, which could give convincing results, still remains in the plans of world science.

What are scientists talking about?

Cochrane Library experts, who print and evaluate scientific research reviews, have published some data on the relationship of birth control pills to overweight.

In the first generalized review of the effect on oral weight gain of oral contraceptives, including progestins only, it was concluded that more than half of the studies used evidence of "poor quality."

In these studies, participants on average gained less than two kilograms after taking progestin-based birth control pills for 6-12 months.

A second review of the Cochrane Library examined the effect of combined birth control pills, that is, tablets that contain both estrogen and progesterone, on overweight. Having studied all the available information, the experts came to the conclusion that there is no evidence of a relationship between combination pills and overweight.

According to experts from the US National Library of Medicine, it is “unlikely” that birth control pills can cause significant weight gain. However, the organization recognizes that women can respond differently to taking certain drugs.

How to prevent weight gain while taking birth control pills?

Many of the methods that are recommended for oral contraceptives allow you to lose weight in any other cases.

These methods include the following.

  • Physical activity. For 30 minutes every day, women need to be given physical activity, for example, taking walks, running, swimming, doing aerobics or dancing.
  • Maintaining water balance. Daily consumption of large volumes of water can reduce bloating and hunger associated with thirst. Lack of thirst and pale yellow urine are the main signs of a healthy water balance.
  • Calorie restriction. Reducing calorie intake by 500 units per day and consuming from 1,200 to 1,500 calories daily is one of the effective ways to lose excess weight.
  • Nutrition. A healthy diet that contains foods rich in nutrients, such as vegetables, whole grains and fruits, will provide the right weight balance. To achieve this goal, you must also avoid foods that have no nutritional value, such as foods with added sugars, salt and saturated fats.

If a woman suspects that birth control pills are causing her to gain weight, she should talk to her doctor about this.

Your doctor may lower your hormone dose or recommend alternative methods of contraception.

Alternative methods of contraception

The modern market offers many alternative methods of birth control. It should be recognized that in many of them the same hormones are used as in birth control pills.

Such methods, for example, include birth control implants, intrauterine devices, or birth control rings. Intrauterine devices can be either hormonal or non-hormonal.

Other non-hormonal contraceptives include condoms, diaphragms, cervical caps and contraceptive sponges.

None of these methods guarantee 100% protection against unwanted pregnancy, like birth control pills.

Other side effects of birth control pills

When a woman wants to make the right choice between available birth control methods, she should take into account the disadvantages and advantages of each method.

For example, birth control pills can increase the risk of blood clots and hypertension. Such risks are considered insignificant, but nevertheless they exist.

Increased risk of cardiovascular problems are smoking women who are over 35 years old.

Other side effects of birth control pills include the following:

  • breast soreness
  • headaches,
  • mood swings
  • nausea,
  • vaginal discharge.

The listed side effects in most cases disappear when the body gets used to taking the pills. If this does not happen, then the woman needs to see a doctor.


Science has not yet provided conclusive evidence that taking hormonal birth control pills can cause weight gain. Doctors support scientists and often explain the increase in body weight as an organism grows older or older. Many of them point out that women simply shift the blame of age on oral contraceptives.

However, if a woman recently started using birth control pills, did not change her diet during the period of their intake, did not reduce her physical activity level, and at the same time significantly gained weight, she should discuss with the doctor the possible causes of the problem and ways to solve it.

Do birth control provoke weight gain?

So, we must admit that a similar problem existed due to the high content of hormones in OK. Previously, oral contraceptives contained a very high estrogen content (50 mcg), which just caused weight gain. Modern drugs contain about 30 mcg, and low-dose - 20-15 mcg.

So that contraceptives alone do not give any weight gain. Weight gain can only happen if you “prescribe a tablet yourself, on the advice of a girlfriend or the Internet,” without consulting a doctor.

To be honest, we note that some studies nevertheless found a relationship between birth control drugs and energy consumption and some increase in total calorie and fat intake, while other studies did not reveal any related effects.

Due to the limitations of these data, it is difficult to say what exactly matters: different types of contraceptives or individual differences. De facto, of course, the female body reacts very differently to contraceptives.

But the same can be said about the behavior of women during the menstrual cycle as a whole. Someone calmly, that is called "on their feet," bears all the hardships, someone begins to hamster everything that is pinned, others even barely move in pain. Many factors influence this: differences in hormone levels, sensitivity, etc.

The same thing with energy consumption, while one study showed a slight increase in basal metabolic rate at 5% due to the use of contraceptives, in another study no changes were found. Again, the type of drug and individual characteristics probably played a role.

Conclusion: in most cases, not a single significant change in body weight was recorded in connection with the use of birth control pills, although many tend to increase body weight by 2-3 kg in the first months of administration, but after a few months of administration, the weight stabilized .

There are several reasons for this:

increased appetite,

fluid retention in the body - the analogue of progesterone, which is contained in OK, provokes a slower elimination of fluid from the body, when edema is detected, you should read our article "Edema: causes and means of struggle",

hormonal imbalances - if an increase in weight is observed while observing a diet, normal mode of motor activity and the absence of edema, then an increase in weight while taking OK can indicate violations in the thyroid gland and hormonal imbalance, in such cases it is necessary to consult an endocrinologist.

Oral contraceptives and hunger

However, again there is one “but”: each organism has its own individual characteristics! In some, birth control pills improve appetite due to rising progesterone. Maybe not directly, but progesterone probably has a slightly stimulating effect on metabolism during the luteal phase.

So if you are thoughtlessly approaching this issue, you can join the ranks of women who claim that they get fat from hormonal pills. Although the extra kg, as we already know, is not taken from the air!

What is it like with the myth of wide bone: You gain weight not from pills, but from the fact that someone eats too much. But if you control yourself and keep in shape, then the weight will not become more.

A bit of humor 🙂

Gynecologists and endocrinologists recommend that women do not torment themselves with questions about whether it is possible to recover from birth control. Just follow all the doctor's recommendations when prescribing hormonal OK.

A competent doctor will definitely warn you about the possible occurrence of disturbing symptoms that indicate a possible error in the selection of the drug. If they are identified, you should consult a doctor to find out the cause of the appearance of certain side effects and to decide on the cancellation or replacement of OK with another drug.

Do not demonize and do not be afraid of birth control, believe me, no one wants to make you barren or fat! Ok can help you get rid of pain during menstruation, tumors, establish a cycle, etc., most importantly, consult a doctor.

How to start losing weight after therapy

The first thing to do before losing weight after hormonal therapy is to see a doctor. He will determine the reason that provoked the weight gain and give all the necessary recommendations for weight loss. They are mainly as follows:

  1. First you need to calm down and understand that overweight is not a disease and will not bring any harm. Excessive nervousness and constant stress can only aggravate the situation. So that the process of losing weight does not take long to wait, you need to calm down and tune in to a positive result.
  2. Before choosing a diet, you may need to eliminate some health problems. For example, check the status of the cardiovascular and endocrine system. Therefore, an additional visit to a cardiologist, endocrinologist and other specialists may be required.
  3. Starving after the abolition of hormonal drugs is prohibited. Hunger is stress for the body, it can provoke disruptions in the digestive tract and slow down metabolic processes, which will affect weight loss.
  4. Before starting weight loss, you need to do a body cleansing.
    1. Under certain circumstances (human enzymatic and excretory system disorders), hormone molecules can circulate in the blood for more than a month, affecting the body.
    2. It is also necessary to remove all toxins and waste from the body that accumulated before and during treatment. This is especially true of the intestines.
  5. The lymphatic system should be cleaned, as She also takes an active part in metabolic processes.

Adequate assessment of behavior will avoid stressful conditions. Indeed, if a person loses weight and sometimes continues to "pamper" himself with harmful products, then no positive changes in appearance will appear. Therefore, you must strictly adhere to the weight loss plan.

Diet change

First of all, you should reconsider your diet and eating habits. To do this, it is necessary to partially or completely exclude:

  • smoked, fatty, fried foods,
  • canned foods
  • confectionery and bakery products,
  • sweets,
  • salt and salted foods,
  • semi-finished products
  • chips, crackers,
  • carbonated sweet drinks
  • potatoes, beans, rice,
  • any sausages, cheese,
  • fatty meats
  • sauces, mayonnaise,
  • alcoholic drinks.

Proper nutrition for weight loss should include:

  • fruits, vegetables (excluding high-GI foods, such as fried potatoes),
  • citrus fruits, berries,
  • unsweetened dairy products,
  • low-fat varieties of fish, meat,
  • various greens
  • oatmeal (natural, not sweet),
  • seafood,
  • green tea.

Fractional nutrition is the key to rapid weight loss during the diet. Food should be consumed 5-6 times a day in small portions. Breakfast should consist of complex carbohydrates (oatmeal, granola, fresh fruits and vegetables). Closer to dinner, the diet is enriched with protein products.

Drink more water

To quickly eliminate the effects of hormonal therapy, it is recommended to drink plenty of water. The amount of fluid drunk per day should be 2-2.5 liters. In drinking mode, you can also include:

  1. Mineral or medicinal table water without gases. It has the same effect as pure water. But it also saturates the body with mineral salts, which are washed out during weight loss.
  2. Green tea. It has a diuretic effect and normalizes sweating. To maintain the body during weight loss, it is enough to drink 2-3 cups of this tea per day.
  3. Fruit drinks, compotes. Any berry drinks (not juices) have a weak choleretic and diuretic property.
  4. Decoctions. For example, decoctions of parsley and rose hips have the same effect as green tea. But at the same time, they saturate the body with useful substances, improve the functioning of the immune system.

Active lifestyle

For faster weight loss requires physical activity and exercise. With increased weight caused by the intake of hormones, the following types of exercises are shown:

  • swimming,
  • Pilates,
  • yoga,
  • gymnastics,
  • aerobics,
  • Hiking
  • unhurried run.

Classes on a bicycle or simulator are best performed under the supervision of an instructor. During training, you need to drink plenty of water.

Is it possible to lose weight after hormones using pharmacology?

Похудеть после гормонов можно с помощью применения некоторых медикаментов. Most often, in this case, the administration of pharmacological agents will be aimed at bringing the body back to normal: normalizing the thyroid gland, restoring sensitivity to insulin, etc. But sometimes, to reduce weight, doctors prescribe the following drugs specifically for weight loss, and not restoration of health:

  • Reduxin - increases the feeling of fullness,
  • Xenical and Orsoten - block the ability of enzymes to break down fats into monoglycerides and free acids, so that they are not absorbed in the intestine, but come out naturally
  • Clenbuterol - also reduces the body's ability to accumulate adipose tissue reserves and stimulates the breakdown of existing ones.

In most cases, such drugs are prescribed only 6 months after treatment with hormones. During this period, the work of all body systems is normalized. After taking hormonal contraceptives, the doctor may make an exception and prescribe medications for weight loss earlier.

Folk remedies

The use of folk remedies for weight loss is aimed at accelerating the metabolism and removing excess fluid from the body. You can use them immediately after the end of hormonal treatment.

Popular recipes for weight loss:

  1. Water and honey. In 1 cup of warm water dissolve 1 dessert spoon of honey. They drink honey water in the morning on an empty stomach. But also honey can be dissolved in a decoction of plant herbs.
  2. Aloe honey and juice. The components are taken in the same ratio, mixed. Take 1 teaspoon 15 minutes before eating.
  3. Infusion of herbs. The basis is parsley, fennel fruits, peppermint and dandelion roots, buckthorn bark. Brewed and drunk in the morning in a glass.

The general course of weight loss is 2 months. Recipes of traditional medicine can not be used for people with vascular problems, cholelithiasis and urolithiasis.

How to lose weight if you take hormonal drugs

In order not to get better during hormonal treatment, you must adhere to a diet. But, if excess weight still appeared while taking hormonal contraceptives or drugs, then it will be difficult to lose it. In this case, you can not do without consulting an endocrinologist and a nutritionist. These specialists will take into account possible hormonal disorders and give the following recommendations:

  • strict dietary restriction, i.e. complete rejection of harmful products,
  • proper food intake - 5-7 times a day,
  • fasting days, if there are no contraindications,
  • physical activity or minor physical activity,
  • increased drinking regime.

And most importantly - a positive mood and confidence in victory over excess weight!