Last updated on Jun 22nd, 2021 at 04:31 pm

Contraceptive pills effectively prevent pregnancy but some women complain that they cause weight gain. Could contraceptive pills be responsible for unexpected weight gain or is this a myth?  

Since the introduction of birth control methods, women have been able to enjoy the freedom to choose when they want to bear a child. 

Two categories of contraceptives

The wide plethora of contraceptives can be divided into two categories: hormonal and non-hormonal methods. Non-hormonal contraceptives include barrier methods such as male and female condoms, diaphragms, caps, intrauterine devices and natural family planning. Hormonal contraceptives include contraceptive pills, contraceptive patches, rings, injections, implants and the intrauterine system.  

A hormonal contraceptive consists of the synthetic versions of the female sex hormones – oestrogen and progestogen. The oral contraceptive treatments are further divided into two categories of combined pills and mini-pills.

Oral contraceptives

Mini-pills, a form of oral contraceptive, consist of progestogen in synthetic form, a single female hormone. The combined contraceptive pill, on the other hand, consists of both the female hormones in synthetic form. 

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Mini-pills are to be taken for your complete menstrual cycle (all 28 days) and work in two different ways to prevent you from being pregnant.

A combined pill, with the help of its two active ingredients, can prevent pregnancy in three different ways. They stall the important processes of ovulation, fertilisation and implantation of a matured egg on the womb lining. Most of the combined pills are to be taken for a period of 21 days, followed by a break of seven days. In the seven day break, you are most likely to experience withdrawal bleeding which is similar to your monthly period. 

One thing that you should bear in mind is that, despite being effective at preventing pregnancy, these pills do not provide protection against sexually transmitted infections. 

Weight gain and contraceptives

Oral contraceptives can cause side effects. One of the most feared and commonly expected side effects is weight gain. Many women think of discontinuing the pill they are taking for this very reason!

Studies conducted on various pills have concluded that women taking pills such as Microgynon or Mercilon are likely to gain weight. However, the introduction of the Yasmin contraceptive pill has squashed these beliefs and effects.

Oestrogen present in a combined pill is the reason why many women gain weight

Yasmin consists of a unique progestogen and drospirenone which are said to mimic your body’s natural hormones. It acts as a diuretic, counteracting the effect of oestrogen, hence helping in preventing fluid retention. 

The dosage of oestrogen present in this pill is also very low in comparison to other pills. Comparative studies of Yasmin alongside other contraceptive pills now portray the side effect of weight gain as a myth. However, when you consider all the factors, Yasmin may prove to be a better choice for women who fear piling on the kilos due to oral contraceptives. 

While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.