Is the fear of weight gain stopping you from taking a birth control pill?

Some women will risk an unwanted pregnancy for fear of gaining weight from using birth control pills.

“Weight gain from the Pill is not proven,” says Dr. Kimberly Langdon, MD, senior ob/gyn and medical advisor at Medzino Health.

“There are some types of pills that make a woman prone to cyclic weight gain as a result of fluid retention or an increase in appetite,” continues Dr. Langdon.

But there is nothing chemical about a birth control pill itself that directly causes a gain in body fat.

“Estrogen is most often to blame for water retention and increased appetite,” says Dr. Langdon.

“The problem with blaming the Pill for weight gain is that women who take the Pill are often still growing to adulthood. Stable weights are not obtainable until the age of 25 approximately.”

Preventing Weight Gain from Birth Control Use

Taking the Right Pill

“Formulations of oral contraceptives can be changed to lower androgenicity (male hormone effects) and progesterone, both of which can affect appetite and weight gain,” says Dr. Langdon.

“There are low dose formulations and some that have synthetic progesterone only, which may reduce the risk of weight gain.

“For instance, desogestrel and norgestimate are low in androgenicity, resulting in less weight gain or no weight gain, whereas, levonorgestrel and norethindrone are higher in androgenicity and can increase appetite and weight gain.”

Raising Resting Metabolism though HIIT

HIIT stands for high intensity interval training. Just two sessions per week can help ward off weight gain from eating more than usual – assuming that the “more than usual” isn’t off the deep end.

HIIT consists of very intense, but very brief, intervals of exercise – alternating with a few minutes of easy-paced recovery.

An example would be pedaling as hard as you can on a stationary bike for 30 seconds (hard enough so that you actually can barely make it to 30 seconds), then pedaling easy at very light tension for 90 seconds to two minutes.

Eight HIIT “cycles” are all it takes to complete one session. The mode of exercise can be flights of stairs, an elliptical machine, a treadmill (don’t hold on), jump rope or running outdoors.

Another mode is floor movements such as squat jumps, regular jumps, lunge jumps and box jumps.

To further prevent weight gain from using birth control pills, you should take up strength training – even if you’re still in high school.

Dr. Langdon, who is now retired from clinical practice, has delivered over 2,000 babies. Besides obstetrics, she specialized in gynecologic situations such as menstrual disorders, vaginitis, menopause, contraception, pelvic pain and minimally-invasive surgeries.