Weight Loss After Stopping Birth Control Pills

Birth control pills allow women to control their own fertility by preventing unwanted pregnancies. The birth control pill can also regulate menstrual cycles, which is helpful for women with irregular periods, polycystic ovarian syndrome or endometriosis. Although the birth control pill has benefits, it may also cause unwanted side effects. One common side effect is weight gain, which may be significant enough to some women to discontinue the pill or search for alternatives.

A package of birth control pills. (Image: crankyT/iStock/Getty Images)

Hormone Factors

Although weight gain is a potential side effect of all birth control pills, some pills are more likely to cause weight gain than others. The synthetic hormones found in birth control pills and some other forms of contraception, such as the hormonal IUD, are the biggest factor in weight gain. Each type of birth control pill contains a different proportion and formulation of estradiol and progestin. The formulation of one type of pill may cause weight gain, while another pill may not.

Cause of Weight Gain

Weight gain from birth control pills may be due to increased appetite and fluid retention. The estrogen in birth control pills may lead to fluid retention, which causes weight gain. The hormones in birth control pills may also stimulate your appetite and eating more can result in weight gain.

Stopping Birth Control

Talk to your doctor about your desire to stop taking birth control. He may be able to suggest a different birth control method that has fewer side effects. If you choose to quit taking the pill, finish your current pack and do not start another. You may have normal menstrual cycles right away, but it may take several months for normal periods to resume.

Diet

You need to cut 500 to 1,000 calories daily to lose the recommended one to two pounds each week. Keep track of all the food you eat, so that you can more easily spot hidden sources of calories and look for ways to cut calories. Eat fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and low-fat dairy. Avoid fried foods and sweets, and limit portion sizes. Drink more water, which will also help to flush out any fluid retained in the kidneys.

Exercise

Exercise will also help you lose any weight gained from taking birth control. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise on most days each week. Getting 60 to 90 minutes of aerobic exercise at least five days a week will create better results. Engage in moderate resistance training or light weight lifting twice a week as well; this will tone muscle, which burns more fat.

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