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Do birth control pills cause weight gain and fluid retention?

Many women who are on the pill successfully prevent pregnancy. However, some of them also blame oral contraceptives for weight gain and fluid retention. Depending on the birth control pill it is possible that this way of contraception induces weight gain and in some women fluid retention. Still, it is of major importance to investigate the exact connection between birth control pill, weight gain and fluid retention since the problems may not be related to intake of birth control pill at all.

Recent studies showed no specific connection between birth control pill and weight gain. Even in case there is weight gain associated with intake of the pill the problem is only temporary. It is estimated that around 5-10% of women taking birth control pill add few pounds. However, the numbers are the same in women who do not take birth control pills.

Possible Weight Gain on Birth Control Pill

Weight gain generally depends on the type of birth control pill, to be more precise on the amount of hormones in the pill. For example, women using high dose pills tend to gain 5.3 lb in a year while women who are injected Depo Provera gain 6.6 lb in a year. Still, only 7% of women who are on the pill have actually gain 10% of total body weight. In case of Depo Provera 25% of all women gained more than this 10% of total body weight. By comparing these two contraceptive methods it is evident that birth control pill leads to less weight gain than birth control injection.

What about Fluid Retention?

The fact is that if a birth control pill contains higher doses of estrogen there is a chance that a woman will suffer from fluid retention. The problem particularly develops if the pill contains at least 50 mcg or even more. The explanation is simple. Increased doses of estrogen stimulate kidney substances such as renin-angiotensin responsible for water retention. Water retention also leads to weight gain hence women who are suffering from fluid retention may appear heavier.

The studies have revealed different effects of birth control pills depending on the amount of estrogen. Namely, pills containing less than 20 mcg of estrogen reduce weight. If the pill has 30 mcg of estrogen there is no difference in the weight or nominal loss of weight. And finally, in case of 50 mcg of estrogen the woman may suffer from fluid retention and weight gain.

Each and every woman who is on birth control pill and who has experienced more than 5% of the body weight gain within a year is due to consult her doctor. This way the actual cause of weight gain can be identified and dealt with properly.

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