From the moment you were old enough to consider using hormonal birth control, you’ve probably been told that it will make you gain weight. Whether this is myth or fact has been a subject of great debate over time. However, the truth lies somewhere in between.
Fact: In a 2009 research study conducted at Texas A&M University, 73 women, 34 of whom were on hormonal birth control, were placed on a supervised ten week weight training program. At the conclusion, researchers measured the gains in muscle mass in the participants, and discovered that the women on birth control built 60% less lean muscle mass than those who were not. In addition, those on birth control had higher levels of hormones that actually break down muscle tissue. Since lean muscle mass increases your metabolism, and thus your ability to burn calories, this would indicate that being on hormonal birth control is directly related to your body burning calories less efficiently.
Fact: Each woman is unique, with her own personal body chemistry. It’s impossible for anyone to know how your body will react to adding a hormonal birth control method to the mix until you actually do so.
Fact: According to Planned Parenthood, a very common reaction to hormonal birth control is water retention. While not fat, water weight is still extra pounds for your body to carry.
Fact: Planned Parenthood also states that progesterone, which is a hormone found in some forms of birth control, is known to increase appetite. Consuming more calories each day can, of course, lead to weight gain.
Fact: In The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, it was reported that women taking the Depo-Provera birth control shot, which contains synthetic hormones to suppress estrogen levels, are twice as likely to become obese over a three year period than those not taking hormonal birth control, even after diet and exercise were taken into account.
If you are concerned about weight gain, it seems taking hormonal birth control is simply not worth the risk.