Contraception: No weight gain with birth control pills, but a change in shape


  • Birth control pills do not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
  • The duration of the prescription is 12 months maximum.

It is known that birth control pills make those who use them gain weight. For a long time, we owed our small weight gain to these oral contraceptives. However, this would be more a myth than a scientific fact, A . pointed out BBC Future article spotted by slate. On the British site, Maria Gallo, an endocrinologist at Ohio State University and lead author of a meta-analysis of 49 studies on the contraceptive pill, concluded that there is no ‘Doesn’t have much effect’ on weight.

“C’est la même raison pour laquelle il existe cette idée que les vaccins peuvent causer des problèmes de santé. Si vous les donnez à une population, vous allez avoir des gens qui ont des problèmes de santé, qu’licins so qu’ils au First”, Maria Gallo explained. This is a phenomenon called apophenia, i.e. a change in perception consisting of seeing a relationship between elements when there is none.

In the case of the contraceptive pill, the endocrinologist noted that patients gain an average of one kilogram per year starting in adulthood. This means that women’s weight gain coincides with the time they start birth control. Therefore, they can easily attribute their weight gain to the Pill, rather than blaming themselves for overeating.

40% less muscle

There are no scientific studies showing that birth control pills cause weight gain, but research indicates that they can change the shape and body composition of the woman who takes them.

A 2009 study by Stephen Richman, an exercise physiologist at Texas A&M University, revealed the effect of birth control pills on muscle mass in women. The researchers subjected a group of men and women to 10 weeks of intense training. Then the participants were weighed. The team then discovered that the women who took the contraceptive pill gained 40% less muscle than those who didn’t.

What is even more surprising is that not all women who took the pill had poor muscle growth, only those who took some form of progesterone. “We are convinced that the cause is the hormone progesterone”, said Professor Riechman. According to him, by competing for the same binding sites as muscle, the hormone blocks signals, which leads to reduced growth.

More stored fat and more bloating

It is also suspected that the contraceptive pill affects the distribution of stored fat in the body. One study found that women who took high-estrogen pills tended to have more pear-shaped and more subcutaneous fat, but not necessarily more fat overall.

A final drawback due to taking the pill, which is well known to women, and which is sometimes confused with weight gain: bloating. This unpleasant feeling of bloating occurs because estrogen also affects how the body metabolizes water by affecting the production of certain proteins in the kidneys. The result: the body retains more fluid, which then infiltrates the adipocytes and causes them to swell. In women who tend to store more fat in the breasts, buttocks, and thighs, these areas may develop larger.

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