Why It Could Be Harder To Lose Weight On Birth Control

You may have heard that when you begin taking birth control, common side effects include weight gain and difficulty losing unwanted pounds. However, the science behind the inability to lose weight while on birth control is varied, and the reason why it's harder to lose weight while using birth control is complex (per HealthMatch). There are numerous factors that go into the equation, from the type of birth control to your unique health history. 

According to MedlinePlus, the multiple forms of birth control available today range from male condoms to female hormonal options. It's the latter form of birth control that involves the hormones believed to have weight gain as a side effect. Hormonal birth control options include oral contraception (aka the pill), vaginal rings, arm implants, intrauterine devices (IUDs), contraceptive patches, and injections of hormones typically given in three-month intervals. The birth control pill is a popular choice and includes the hormones estrogen and progestin or progestin only, per WebMD. Contraception and birth control options are modern marvels of science, and like every lasting scientific breakthrough, they have evolved over the years. The first birth control pills available in the 1960s contained high levels of progestin and estrogen, the latter of which can result in weight gain and fluid retention when taken in high concentrations. There are ways in which birth control may contribute to additional weight gain and barriers to losing weight — let's look at what's behind the relationship between birth control and weight concerns.

Hormones can affect metabolism

Unlike the early versions of hormonal birth control, today's birth control options contain much lower doses of hormones and carry fewer risks for weight gain and fluid retention (via WebMD). But even if birth control isn't causing you to gain weight, can it make it harder to lose weight? It's possible that hormonal birth control can affect the metabolism of some women, though this is not the experience of everyone who uses a form of hormonal birth control (per HealthMatch). If you do experience weight gain, fluid retention, or changes to your metabolism while using hormonal birth control, it is likely that the changes to your body will resolve once you cease usage of that specific form of hormonal birth control.

For women who experience changes to their metabolism as a side effect of hormonal birth control, there are several lifestyle habits that can help to manage unwanted side effects, per HealthMatch. Decreasing your daily caloric intake by eliminating unhealthy foods and replacing them with healthy items can mitigate the effects of hormonal birth control methods on metabolism, though always ensure that you're consuming enough calories to remain healthy. Eating foods high in fiber and protein can help you feel fuller for longer, making these dietary choices beneficial for women who experience metabolic changes due to birth control. Avoiding foods high in added sugars, like sodas and processed foods, along with exercise can also aid in balancing out the side effects of hormonal birth control.