How to Lose Weight on Birth Control

Many individuals on birth control may worry about its potential impact on their weight. However, it’s essential to know that not everyone experiences weight gain while using hormonal contraception.

In some cases, the perceived weight gain might actually be due to fluid retention caused by the body’s response to hormones, which typically subsides within the first few months of use.

As you consider options for contraception, understanding the possible causes of weight fluctuations and how to manage them is crucial.

We’ll explore some practical tips and strategies to maintain a healthy weight while using birth control, regardless of your age or choice of contraceptive method.

Types of Birth Control Pills

Birth control pills are a popular and effective method for preventing pregnancy. They contain synthetic hormones, such as estrogen and progestin, which help regulate your menstrual cycle and prevent ovulation.

To fully understand the effects of birth control on your body, it’s essential to know its different types, how they work, as well as their benefits.

Combination Pills

Combination pills are a type of oral contraceptive that contains both estrogen and progestin. These pills work by suppressing your body’s natural hormonal cycle, preventing ovulation, and thickening cervical mucus to deter sperm.

Some types also thin the lining of your uterus, making it less likely for a fertilized egg to attach.

In your monthly pill pack, most pills will contain hormones, and the rest will be placebo or inactive pills, during which time you’ll have your menstrual period.

Progestin-only Pills

Progestin-only pills, also known as the “mini-pill,” are another form of oral contraceptive. They are ideal for individuals who can’t take estrogen due to medical reasons or side effects. These pills work primarily by thickening your cervical mucus and thinning the lining of your uterus.

Some forms may also suppress ovulation, but this is not their primary method of action. Similar to combination pills, progestin-only pills should be taken at the same time every day to ensure optimal effectiveness.

Side Effects of Birth Control

Understanding potential adverse effects is critical when choosing a suitable method of contraception. While birth control pills are generally safe and effective, they can cause various side effects, ranging from mild to severe.

Here, we break down the common and rare side effects you may encounter and what to expect when these are experienced.

Stomach Sickness

Nausea is a feeling of sickness with an inclination to vomit. This sensation is a common side effect when you first start taking birth control pills, especially if taken on an empty stomach.

Usually, this feeling subsides after a few days as your body adjusts to the medication.

Full and Sensitive Breasts

Another possible side effect is breast tenderness or enlargement. Your breasts might feel more sensitive or painful to touch, similar to premenstrual breast discomfort.

This is generally due to the hormonal changes brought about by the pill and usually eases over time.

Weight Gain

Some birth control pills can lead to a slight weight gain, typically due to water retention and an increased appetite. This is not a universal reaction and varies with each individual.

You should consult your healthcare provider in cases where there is an increased rate of weight gain.

Mood Changes

Hormonal changes due to birth control can also lead to mood swings or emotional instability. Some individuals may even experience depression or anxiety.

If you notice substantial mood changes and suspect your birth control may be the cause, reach out to your healthcare provider.

Bleeding Outside Menstruation

When you first start taking birth control pills, you might have spotting or bleeding between periods, known as breakthrough bleeding.

Although this can be irritating, it’s usually not harmful. It usually resolves itself after a few months as your body adapts to the hormonal changes.

Decreased Sexual Interest

Some women notice a decrease in their sexual desire while on the birth control pill. This could be due to the hormone levels or psychological effects of taking the pill.

If you find this troubling, you might consider discussing other birth control options with your healthcare provider.

Blood Clots

While rare, oral contraceptives can increase the risk of forming a blood clot, especially in women over 35 who smoke. A blood clot can cause deep vein thrombosis (a clot in your leg), pulmonary embolism (a clot in your lung), stroke, or heart attack.

Signs of a blood clot include severe leg or chest pain and difficulty breathing.

Heart Attack

A heart attack occurs when blood flow to a part of your heart is blocked, often by a blood clot. This is a rare but serious side effect of birth control pills.

Symptoms can include chest pain, shortness of breath, and discomfort in your upper body.


Birth control pills can marginally increase the risk of stroke, particularly for women with other risk factors like high blood pressure, smoking, or a history of stroke. Strokes occur when the blood supply to part of your brain is interrupted, causing brain cells to die.

Symptoms can include sudden numbness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body, confusion, and difficulty speaking or understanding speech.

Gaining Weight on Birth Control

One commonly reported side effect of birth control is weight gain. Knowledge about why this happens can help you manage or prevent this outcome.

Water Retention

One of the reasons you may gain weight while on the pill is due to fluid retention, especially around your hips and breasts.

Hormones in birth control pills can lead to an increase in your body’s water content, which may make you feel as if you’ve gained weight. However, this weight gain is usually temporary.

Increased Appetite

Some people experience an increased appetite while on birth control pills due to the shift in hormone levels, which can lead to weight gain if it results in consuming more calories than your body uses.

Paying attention to what and how much you’re eating can help you manage this.

Changes in Body Structure

Hormonal shifts caused by birth control pills can also lead to changes in your body’s muscle and fat tissue. Some people may see an increase in fat tissue, especially those who don’t regularly exercise or who have a high-calorie diet.

On the flip side, some people may experience increased muscle mass due to the influence of the hormones on the body.

Controlling Weight Gain

With a better understanding of the factors at play, you can control potential weight gain while on birth control.

Let’s explore some tips and tricks that can help you navigate this issue effectively.

Smaller Balanced Meals

Maintaining a healthy, balanced diet is key to managing your weight. Aim for a diet rich in lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, while limiting your intake of processed foods and sugars.

Rather than three large meals, eating smaller meals or snacks throughout the day could help curb hunger, prevent overeating, and balance out calorie gain and usage to maintain your weight.

Regular Exercise and Activity

Regular physical activity can help you prevent and manage weight gain while on birth control. It’s recommended that you incorporate both aerobic activities and strength training into your routine.

Regular exercise burns calories, reduces appetite, and helps maintain a healthy weight. Training builds your muscles, enhances your stamina, and tones your muscles for a better-looking physique.

Drink More Water

Proper hydration is also essential. It can help you feel full to curb your appetite, boost your metabolism, and aid in digestion.

Make sure you’re drinking enough water throughout the day, especially before meals.

Sleep and Appetite

Having a healthy sleep routine plays a crucial role in managing your weight. Lack of quality sleep can disrupt your appetite-regulating hormones, leading to increased cravings, uncontrolled hunger, and potential weight gain.

Try to establish a consistent sleep schedule, aim for at least seven hours of sleep per night, and create an environment conducive to good sleep.

Stress Reduction

High levels of stress can also have an impact on your weight. When in stress, your body tends to crave high-fat, high-sugar foods, which can lead to weight gain.

Incorporating stress management techniques into your daily routine, such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, or any activity you enjoy, can help reduce stress levels and, in turn, manage weight gain.

Regular Check-ups

Keep tabs on your weight. Regular weigh-ins and consultation with your doctor can help you identify any weight gain early and take action promptly.

Discuss any concerns with your healthcare provider, who can work with you to find a method of birth control that suits your lifestyle and health goals.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are Combination pills, and how do they prevent pregnancy?

Combination pills are a type of oral contraceptive that contains both estrogen and progestin. They work by suppressing your body’s natural hormonal cycle, which prevents ovulation, and through thickening cervical mucus, making it harder for sperm to reach any potential eggs.

Some types of combination pills also thin the lining of your uterus, decreasing the likelihood of a fertilized egg attaching and developing.

What are some common side effects of birth control pills?

Birth control pills can cause various side effects, which are usually mild, such as nausea, breast tenderness, weight gain, and mood changes. You may also experience spotting or breakthrough bleeding when you first start taking birth control.

It’s important to note that many of these side effects improve as your body adjusts to the hormones in the pill.

Why might I gain weight while using birth control pills?

Weight gain on birth control pills could be attributed to fluid retention, especially around your hips and breasts. Some people may also experience an increased appetite due to the change in hormone levels.

Additionally, changes in your body’s muscle and fat tissue may occur because of the hormones, potentially leading to increased fat tissue and muscle mass.

Can combination birth control pills lead to serious health problems?

While it’s rare, birth control pills can increase the risk of developing blood clots, especially among women over 35 who smoke. This can have serious consequences, including heart attack and stroke.

If you have risk factors like smoking, high blood pressure, or a personal history of blood clot disorders, it’s important to discuss these risks with your healthcare provider.

How can I manage weight gain while on birth control pills?

You can manage weight gain while on birth control pills by maintaining a balanced diet, engaging in regular exercise, staying hydrated, maintaining good sleep management, and managing stress.

Regular check-ups can help monitor any weight gain early on. If you are concerned about weight gain, consult with your healthcare provider to find a contraceptive method that suits your lifestyle and health goals.