We all know that eating a couple boxes of Girl Scout thin mints can make us fat…ah the injustice! We also know that sitting on the couch and watching a Real Housewives of Beverly Hills marathon for 24 hours straight instead of being active can eventually make us fat. But now we are finding out that our birth control is ALSO making us fat?
As if we needed one more thing working against us (or our not-so-precious love handles) along comes research that shows that weight gain is indeed a side effect of many types of birth control methods. Great, right?
Just when you start to feel comfortable with your pill, your shot or your IUD, the side effects often rear their ugly heads. I strongly believe that there are far better and healthier birth control methods than using hormonal birth control pills and devices. But more on that later.
First, I’m here to tell you about 2 of the biggest offenders: Progestin-only pills and the Depo-Provera shot. While weight gain is listed as a side effect of pretty much all types of birth control,these 2 methods are sure to make it so that you can’t button your favorite skinny jeans. What I want you to know is all the dirty little secrets about these guys so that you can make an informed decision and make a wiser and healthier choice for your body.
This birth control pill, most commonly referred to as the mini-pill, is a little bit different than a regular birth control pill. Most pills deliver two different female hormones, estrogen and progesterone. The mini-pill only has progesterone in it.
So why would you need a pill that only releases one hormone? Some of the more common situations where the mini-pill is prescribed is when you are breast-feeding because it will not affect your milk production. It is also considered safer for women older than 35 or for women who smoke, or have other medical issues such as high blood pressure or a history of blood clots.
Some people believe that because this pill doesn’t contain estrogen that the side effects won’t be as bad, but there is one common side effect that many women on the mini-pill report: WEIGHT GAIN!
Because this pill is making your body “think” it is pregnant you might only have weight gain while you are on the pill and the extra pounds will go away once you stop taking the pill. If you ask me that’s reason enough to go off the pill right now. Am I right ladies?
Depo-Provera is yet another progesterone-only birth control method, this time in the form of a shot. At first the advantages of this method sound fabulous: you only have to get the shot every 3 months and you don’t have to remember to take that pesky little pill every day.
However, before you make your appointment to get shot up you must hear this. A study by the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology reported that women on Depo-Provera went up an average of 11 pounds, that’s 2 dress sizes. Oh hell no!
The scariest part is that experts don’t even know exactly why the shot makes women pack on the pounds. They say it could be that because you only get the shot every 3 months you are being delivered a higher dose of the hormone and that could be lowering your body’s metabolism, which promotes fat storage. But it doesn’t even matter the reason really…all I know is that there is another better, safer and healthier way to prevent pregnancy than getting a shot and getting fat!
So, what the heck are you supposed to do?
Well, it is my belief that you can avoid these methods completely. I know this is a scary prospect for many women but I personally think choosing the wrong husband is more terrifying! (Yes, that is a side effect of hormonal birth control too – check out that post here).
If you need help coming off hormonal birth control, I’ve created the ultimate step by step protocol to help you come off the pill and take back control of your hormones, your body and your life. Check out my Ditch Your Birth Control Protocol here.
I highly recommend a natural birth control method called the Fertility Awareness Method, which I discuss extensively in the Birth Control Protocol. This involves observing your cervical fluid and other fertility signs and taking your basal body temperature each morning. Using FAM has seriously changed my relationship with my body and has given me an immense amount of data to work with. If you want to know more, get your hands on the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility, the definitive guide to natural contraception. Also check out my post on Period-tracking apps for how to get tracking.
- American Association of Family Physicians “Projestin-Only Contraceptives” Oct 15 2000; 62 (8): 1849-1850 http://www.aafp.org/afp/2000/1015/p1849.html
- US News & World Report Health “Is Depo-Provera Causing Weight Gain?” Mar 4 2009. http://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/on-women/2009/03/04/is-your-depo-provera-causing-weight-gain