The Pill and Weight Gain

Do birth control pills make you gain weight?

Many women report weight gain when they use an oral contraceptive. A woman can expect to gain 5 to 10 pounds when she starts using the pill, but this side effect has been highly dramatized in our overly weight conscious culture. Fear of weight gain has been found to be one of the reasons for why some women stop taking the pill, even though the pill offers many benefits, (including lowered rates of ovarian and endometrial cancer, as well as of benign breast disease and ovarian cysts), carries few risks, (mostly smokers, and women with a history of heart disease) and is a highly reliable form of contraception when taken correctly.

Current forms of the pill have much lower doses of the hormones that may cause weight gain, making older reports of this side effect largely useless. If a woman fears any weight gain that may accompany the pill, she should let her doctor know that this is of importance to her and work with her/him to choose a pill that works best.

A woman can control some of the weight gain related to water retention by reducing her salt intake and making sure she drinks enough water. It may also be the case that some women gain a few extra pounds when they go on the pill because they expect that weight gain, and thereby don't watch their weight as closely.

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