It’s something OB/GYNs hear time after time. “I don’t want the pill. I read that it causes weight gain.”
Is that fact or fiction?
The problem with answering this question is the pill is often started around a time when there is life changes…starting college, entering a new relationship, so it is hard to know if weight gain is due to the pill, or changes in eating/exercises habits.
A study published in March of 2009 March by Dr. Abbey Berenson M.D. from the University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, looked at the question of weight gain and the pill in a rigorous fashion. Dr, Berenson evaluated more than 200 women taking the birth control pill. The women were weighed, had high-tech body scans to check body fat percentage, calories were tracked, and exercise was recorded.
The verdict? There was no weight gain among pill users; however, there was a slight increase in body fat percentage.
Interestingly, over the course of the study the birth control pill users significantly reduced their amount of time exercising, which would reduce muscle mass and possibly account for the increase in body fat. Also some women report an increase in breast size, which might explain and increase in body fat.
However, it turns out you can’t blame the Pill for the freshman five. In addition, not using a contraceptive leaves you at risk for pregnancy, which is definitely associated with weight gain!