No kids, big booty
September 6, 2005 10:38 PM   Subscribe

Birth control and weight gain: will switching pills help?

I've been taking a low-dose pill for about 2.5 years, and since then I've gained about 15-20 pounds. Some of that weight is a result of my metabolism slowing down, but it's quite a bit on my small frame, and I believe some of it may be caused by my pill. I've gained mostly in the hips, breasts and behind. I'm 25, 5'4" and 145. I'm most comfortable at about 125 with my smallish frame. I visit the gym 3-4 times a week for an hour of cardio and/or weights, but the weight seems to be very resistant to exercise and careful (not perfect, but more careful) diet.

Is there a way to know for sure if it's the pill, and if so how much? And will switching to a different low-dose pill help (I'm on Alesse, so say I switched to Yasmine, for example), or am I going to gain on any pill no matter what? What questions should I ask my MD?
posted by hamster to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Does your mother have a big booty? These things are often genetic and you may be predisposed.
posted by letterneversent at 10:47 PM on September 6, 2005

Response by poster: Both my mom and my sister are size 2-4. A couple of my relatives are curvy, but none are predisposed to rapid weight gain the way I've been. My sister hasn't gained a pound on the same pill, and my mom didn't have weight gain when she was on the pill.
posted by hamster at 10:53 PM on September 6, 2005

Short answer: it may help to switch

Long answer: IANAD, but my personal experience is that everyone reacts differently to the various kinds of hormonal BC out there. Pick any BC out there, and you'll find people that love it or hate it; unfortunately, it seems its hard to tell what will work best for you without a little bit of trial and error. In my personal experience, I did depo for about 3years with 0 problems, then switched to the OrthoEvra patch and gained about 15lbs in a few months. Then again, my sister did a low-dose pill with no problems, then did depo and gained 20lbs.

The best question to ask your ob/gyn may be to find out what her observations have been in regards to the BC she's prescribed.
posted by dicaxpuella at 10:57 PM on September 6, 2005

I would think some of that's the pill you're on, and some of that's the age you're at/metabolism slowdown. In my experience, every woman reacts differently to different pills (like dicaxpuella said), but I haven't yet run across a woman that told me she's managed to lose birth control weight if she's gained it (I really wanted to lose the weight I'd gained, myself). After all, BC fools your body into thinking it's already pregnant, that's why you gain the weight; it's hormonal prep for pregnancy. Me personally, my first couple months on a low-dose pill were like my first trimester of pregnancy - worn out, nauseated, achy, no energy, sore swollen breasts, and weight gain.

I gained a good 15 lbs initally on the pill, switched to another that didn't make me gain any more but I didn't lose any; gained a few more lbs once out of college; then didn't lose any of the weight at all when I quit the pill. My good friend reports a similar experience. Both of us have found it very hard to shift the weight gained in this manner, although I think some of that is age/slower metabolism. All my weight gain was in the same spots as yours - again, faux-pregnancy spread! I'd say ask your doctor about switching, and explain your concerns about the weight gain; she'll probably have some ideas about other types you can try.
posted by Melinika at 6:29 AM on September 7, 2005

Is it practical to stop taking any at all for a while to figure out your baseline? A lot easier to figure out what's biology and what's the medication if you can stop the medication for a while.
posted by phearlez at 8:07 AM on September 7, 2005

If you're interested in switching, I can report that (in my experience) Lo-Estrin has had the fewest side effects of any BC pill I've ever been on. (My doc said when she put me on it that she's found that most women in her practice who are on it report the same thing.) YMMV, of course, but I just wanted to throw it out there as a specific brand name you might want to try. (The generic is called Microgestin, by the way.)
posted by scody at 8:08 AM on September 7, 2005

There have been a bunch of extensive and helpful posts on the whole pill question on AskMe in the recent past that might have some relevant info- search and see.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 8:34 AM on September 7, 2005

Best answer: Based on my personal experience, it might help. Yasmin actually has a tendency to cause women to lose weight, mostly because it contains a drug (DRSP, drospirenone) that works like a diurectic to help keep off water weight. In additional, Yasmin works best at curbing cramps and other PMSy type things for me too. Of course, talk to your doctor about it and see what they say.
posted by geeky at 10:41 AM on September 7, 2005

You could also try to track caloric intake. You can't gain weight if you burn more calories than you consume.
posted by jikel_morten at 11:07 AM on September 7, 2005

« Older unconventional film formats   |   Traveling to Moscow, Russia Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.