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Birth Control Pills and Weight

Medically Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD on March 01, 2008
From the WebMD Archives

Q: Is it true you’re likely to gain weight after going on birthcontrol pills?

A: Sorry, but if the numbers on the scale are higher than you’d like,you probably can’t blame that little blister pack.

"On average, for women on birth control pills, as many will lose weight aswill gain weight," says Vanessa Dalton, MD, MPH, an assistant professor ofobstetrics and gynecology at the University of Michigan Health System.

Although some women gain weight while on the pill, it’s hard to say whetherthe pill is actually the culprit. "Women do tend to gain weight over time, andthey may be blaming the pill when it’s really not the reason," says Dalton."They may be exercising less, or they’ve changed their diet in some way. Evenif the pill does cause a few individuals to gain weight, we’re talking about apound or two, not 15 or 20."

One exception is the birth control shot Depo-Provera. "Depo probably doescause people to gain a little weight. Exactly why is unclear," Dalton says. Theshot may increase fluid retention as well as appetite, she adds. So if you’rehaving weight issues, think about whether Depo should be your birth control ofchoice.