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Fear of Gaining Weight Affects Contraception Choices

Concerns about weight gain may lead women to skip a daily contraceptive pill, new US research has found, confirming long- suspected beliefs that fear of gaining weight can affect which contraceptive method women choose.

Researchers at Penn State College of Medicine, led by Dr Cynthia H. Chuang, examined survey and demographic data from 1,000 women in Pennsylvania with private health insurance. They discovered that women who were overweight (determined by the participants’ body mass index) were less likely to use certain forms of contraceptives such as the pill, the patch, and the ring, and chose long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) instead.


LARCs do not contain estrogen, a hormone many women fear may cause them to gain weight.
Results showed that 23% of overweight women and 21% of obese women in the study opted for LARCs, which is one of the most effective forms of birth control, as the study states.
The study, soon to be published in the medical journal Contraception, also found that overweight and obese women were more likely than normal weight women to choose condoms or no form of contraception at all.
“We were actually glad to see that overweight and obese women were at least more likely to choose LARCs because I was expecting to see these women more likely to use non-prescription methods,” Dr Chuang said, discussing the research findings.
“Women may be worried about weight gain when they’re making decisions about birth control, so clinicians need to be aware of that…It could be an opportunity to counsel women about LARCs, which are more effective forms of contraception.”


Does hormonal contraception cause weight gain?
Although many women believe the contraceptive pill causes weight gain, in fact a scientific review from 2011 showed no evidence that the pill caused weight gain in most women. Also, any weight gain is generally minimal and goes away within 2 to 3 months.
When the pill was first sold in the early 1960s, it had very high levels of estrogen and progestogen. estrogen in high doses can cause weight gain due to increased appetite and fluid retention. So while 50 years ago the pill may have caused weight gain in some women, current contraception pills have much lower amounts of hormones.
If you are ever worried about side effects from your contraceptive method, always speak to your doctor.

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