Lots of women work hard to maintain a healthy figure, so it can be alarming when you hear that your contraceptive could make you gain weight. You might not want to fall pregnant, but you still want to fit into your skinny jeans!
But here’s the thing: it might not be true – for you, anyway. Everyone responds differently to different kinds of birth control, and the ‘contraceptives make you fat’ mantra has spread far and wide without proper context.
To help you make the right choices, let’s take a look at the facts.
Fact #1: Hormonal birth control methods affect everyone differently
There can be some disadvantages to hormonal contraceptive methods, but chances are they’re not as bad as you’ve heard. There’s always ‘a friend of a friend’ who has had a negative experience with a certain type of birth control, but this is usually the exception, not the rule.
Fact #2: Using a contraceptive is not the reason for your weight gain
If you begin a hormonal method of birth control, like the pill, the injection, the patch or the ring, what are the chances that your weight might automatically balloon? Experts say it depends on your unique biochemistry. There’s no way to predict which you will be: a woman who gains weight, a woman who maintains her weight, or a woman who loses a few kilos. There are indeed many instances of women whose weight has remained the same or even dropped a little when using hormonal contraceptives.
Fact #3: Physiological changes in your body aren’t necessarily related to your contraceptive
Hormonal contraceptives contain synthetic forms of oestrogen and progesterone, powerful hormones that are related to all kinds of endocrine functions. It’s highly likely that adding more of them to your system will have some effect on other aspects of your physiology.
Side effects could include nausea, headaches, breast tenderness, dizziness, fluid retention, irregular periods and, sometimes, weight gain. But again, every woman responds differently to these hormones, so you may not experience all (or any) of these side effects. Plus, you need to remember that the changes you undergo after starting a hormonal contraceptive – including changes to your weight – are not necessarily related to using it.
Fact #4: Women using contraceptives don’t gain any more weight than women not using contraceptives
Researchers have explored whether hormonal birth control makes it more likely to get bloated or hungry. Their findings show that there could be an increase in appetite when women are on a hormonal contraceptive, but this is something that can be managed by a healthy diet and exercise.
If you’re concerned about your weight, ask your doctor or clinic about your ideal weight, and healthy, sustainable ways to achieve it. Good lifestyle choices will not only make you feel better, but will help to prevent diseases like high blood pressure and diabetes when you are older.
Fact #5: You can get trustworthy, reliable advice at Marie Stopes
The staff at Marie Stopes centres across SA has the experience to help you choose the right type of contraceptives for your body and your lifestyle. Plus, they can provide woman’s wellness check ups, which include vital health checks for women and advice on staying healthy.