Why birth control can make you gain weight

Birth control can really affect your weight.

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Birth control can really affect your weight.
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Image Point Fr/Shutterstock

  • Birth control can make you gain weight due to ingredients such as estrogen and progestin.
  • Contrary to popular belief, the weight you gain is often only temporary.
  • Birth control can also make you lose control of your appetite.

Throughout the years, there has been much talk surrounding the pros and cons of birth control.

For some, using birth control has been a saving grace. For others, there have been many complaints about the side effects that the contraceptive can cause. One of the most common beliefs is that birth control can cause you to gain weight.

INSIDER talked to experts and found out that this common belief is actually more complicated than you might think.

If you’re taking the pill, weight gain could occur because of its ingredients

According to Dr. Jacqueline Ziernicki of HCA-HealthONE’s Sky Ridge Medical Center, birth control pills can make you gain weight because of the ingredients.

“Birth control pills contain estrogen and progestin and have essentially come a long way since they were approved by the FDA in 1960,” she said. This means the hormone levels are much lower now, but still prevalent. An increase in hormones can have temporary side effects and that includes weight gain. The weight gain, however, may just be fluid retention.

Dr. Felice Gersh, OB-GYN and author of “PCOS SOS: A Gynecologist’s Lifeline To Naturally Restore Your Rhythms, Hormones and Happiness,” told INSIDER that estrogen, a key component of birth control, plays a bigger role in your weight gain than you think and you should take note of that.

“Estrogen also maintains the gut microbiome and gut integrity and regulates gut function,” she said. “A dysbiotic gut (one with abnormal microbes) and a leaky gut (impaired barrier function) leads to a state of overall inflammation, which in turn leads to insulin resistance and weight gain.”

The elimination of

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The elimination of “normal” hormones is the root cause of weight gain.
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Shutterstock/Image Point Fr

Metabolic abnormalities are also a reason

The conversation, however, does not stop there. Dr. Gersh added that certain forms of birth control can create abnormalities that lead to weight gain, too.

“This happens by multiple mechanisms with a common root cause – the elimination of a woman’s normal hormones and rhythms,” Gertsh said. “Their contents are endocrine disruptors, as acknowledged by the US National Institutes of Health Toxicology website. They prevent the ovaries from producing real hormones, replacing them with endocrine disruptors.”

Though weight gain is something to expect all throughout the time you are on your birth control option, it’s usually only temporary due to your body trying to regulate itself.

Birth control options can also make you lose control of your appetite

“Estrogen regulates the appetite centers of the brain’s hypothalamus and on birth control pills, that control is compromised and some women lose control and eat too much or too often,” Dr. Gershe said. “This makes them have increased rates of binge eating. Though birth control pills contain no calories, they impact the metabolic regulatory pathways of the female body, promoting weight gain in a myriad of ways.”

Although this proves that birth control can, in fact, cause you to gain weight if you decide to take it, Dr. Ziernicki said that you have to remember that not everyone’s body reacts the same – no matter what form of birth control you use.

“Every person is different and their bodies will react to it differently,” she said. “If you do feel you have weight gain due to your birth control choice, speak with your doctor to discuss the symptoms and your options going forward.”

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