When women would like to prevent pregnancy, they often rely on birth control. The choices available such as injections, pills and patches allow the woman to select a method that will adjust better with her lifestyle. Although birth control is relatively safe and produces only a few (if any) side effects, one of the main concerns with the majority of women is weight gain.
There are two main types of birth control that cause weight gain. The first type is the Depo Provera injection. This type of birth control is administered every three months and contains progestin, which is a synthetic hormone. The second type of birth control that causes weight gain is birth control pills. These pills contain estrogen and progesterone and must be taken daily.
There is a variety of reasons why birth control causes weight gain. Fluid retention due to increased salt intake is the common issue found in most woman that rely on birth control.
Another reason for weight gain is the increased hormones such as estrogen that birth control brings to the body. These hormones stimulate certain kidney substances which causes the body to store water in fat cells throughout the body.
Birth control also causes a woman's appetite to increase.
Who Is Affected
People who have a high sodium (also known as salt) intake have a greater chance of weight gain with birth control. High levels of sodium in the body causes fluid retention and can appear as swelling or an overall weight gain.
Women that do not exercise regularly or spend the majority of their day sitting also see an increase in their weight while on birth control. The lack of movement prevents the body from burning the extra calories that are taken in due to the increased appetite and does not allow the body to process excess fluid that may be stored.
Although birth control is often used to help build hormone levels in a woman that suffers from a decrease in estrogen, it can cause weight gain for someone that have normal levels. When a woman has normal levels of estrogen in her system, the boost that is provided by birth control can often cause the body to store fat more easily.
Weight gain from birth control often occurs within the first year. The average weight gain with Depo Provera is 5.6 pounds in the first year. Birth control pills contribute to an average weight gain of 10 pounds within the first year.
The best way for a woman to prevent weight gain is to exercise and watch her food intake. Also, cutting back on sodium and drinking more water will help keep the body from retaining fluid. When a woman does not drink water daily, her body will store the fluids already in her system in case of dehydration. By keeping the body hydrated, the body does not need to store water -- which is what causes fluid retention.
Another way to manage weight gain with birth control is to consult the physician that administers the medication. If the weight gain is due to the higher level of hormones present in the birth control, it may be possible to lower the dosage without sacrificing the benefits of preventing pregnancy.
Born and raised in Alabama, Camilla Peters has been writing for four years. Her work includes content for various online publications and several private clients. She is certified as a childbirth educator and birth doula.