I was on birth control for about 2 months, yaz, and went off of it about 3 months ago because I didn't like how it made me feel.
Since then I've suddenly gained 25 pounds and I'm eating less than 900 calories a day and working out a lot. I'm very frusturated because no matter what I do I keep gaining weight.
I've been to several doctors and have had several tests done, (thyroid, hormone levels, ovary check) all of which came back normal.
Also sometimes I get an uncomfortable bloating in my stomach that makes it stick out very far.
I'm extremely uncomfortable and I'm scared that I am going to keep gaining weight...has anyone else experienced anything like this?!?
Also, I'm not pregnant.
Plenty of women say that they gain weight while on the birth control pill. In this thread, meanwhile, a SteadyHealth member reports gaining a significant amount of weight — 25 pounds — after coming off a combined (estrogen/progesterone) contraceptive pil. She says all this weight gain happened despite a very low caloric intake and a rigorous workout schedule.
What do the experts say?
Anecdotally, lots of women report that they gain weight while on "the pill", a term that can refer to combined oral contraceptives that contain both progesterone and estrogen as well as progestin-only pills. Let's take these statements at face value and assume that women who say they gain weight while on the pill really do — does that mean the weight gain is caused by the pill? Not necessarily, as research has established that people tend to gain weight with age as well as that numerous other factors, including diet, genetics, physical activity levels, metabolism, and even culture can impact weight gain.
'Side effects' may not be
Take Yaz, for instance, the pill the person who started the thread reported taking. Weight gain is indeed listed as a possible adverse effect. It is, here, important to understand that package inserts that come with medications may list as side effects symptoms users experienced while taking the medication, even if it has not been established that the symptom in question was indeed a direct result of that medication — and even if similar numbers of people who took a placebo rather than the drug in question had the same symptoms.
One research paper explains this further:
"Currently, the package leaflet is first and foremost a legal document rather than an instrument to inform patients – the information provided in the package leaflet is regulated by law and the pharmaceutical company can be sued if damage occurred due to a package leaflet not being on the current state of medical knowledge. It is therefore not surprising that pharmaceutical companies add side effects to the package leaflet whenever there is the slightest possibility for a causal relation."
Weight gain and the pill
To come back to the more common idea that birth control pills directly cause weight gain, we managed to find only one credible bit of research to suggest that progestin-only pills may do this in some women. There is, meanwhile, no evidence whatsoever that discontinuing any form of birth control has this effect. Let that sink in for a moment — with millions of scientific studies out there, not one has found that coming off oral contraceptives can make women pile on the pounds.
We'd go so far as to say that it's nearly impossible to take in a meager (nearly starvation-level) 900 pounds a day and to exercise a lot, and to still gain significant amounts of weight. We suspect that something else is going on here. Data from the United Kingdom suggests that folk ingest about 50 percent more calories than they think they do. They may burn fewer calories exercising than they believe, as well. If you, too, are gaining weight while believing you eat next to nothing and are highly physically active, it may be time for a reality check.
However, causes of sudden weight gain in women may include:
- Hypothyroidism (a slow thyroid)
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), an endocrine and metabolic disorder that often leads to obesity
- Taking corticosteroids
- Cushing's Syndrome, a rare hormonal disorder that leads to high cortisol levels
- Stress, depression, and anxiety
- Fluid retention
Most of the questions asked on the thread pertained to how to lose the weight:
- What's a girl to do?
- Will my body ever go back to normal?
- Have any of you girls tried inositol powder?
- has anyone else experienced anything like this?
- What kind of treatment did they give you for your high blood sugar?
Some women shared their experiences with gaining weight after stopping the use of birth control pills:
- I am thinking something like Maca may help regulate my hormones.
- I decided to start BC again just to see if this effects my pre diabetes and weight gain.
- I was also eating very little-not more than 700-900calories a day.
- I had been tested by my doc for different problems and everything was great- there was no physiological reason for my weight gain.
- More tests, more stress- nothing found again-all hormones normal, thyroid too.
Advice given to women who had gained weight when they came off the pill included:
- Don't cut out all the sodium in your diet and don't chug gallons upon gallons of water!
- You actually need salt so only try to cut out the salt in processed foods.
- As for water, yes, it's good to be hydrated but don't overdo it cause you might acutally end up making the problem worse (this is especially true if you were on YAz or spiro cause I know these meds make your body confused about how to regulate fluids when you stop them).
- Also look into taking a magnesium supplement.
- magnesium is awesome and basically helps with everything.
Those who turned to their doctors for answers were sometimes diagnosed with underlying medical issues, including hypothyroid, prediabetes, and PCOS:
- I too can't seem to loose the weight and being off BC discovered i have pmdd.
- I also have high glucose (pre-diabetic?) There has to be some correlation.
- Finally in February 2008 my doctor noticed my blood sugar was at the higher limit of the normal value.
- He performed a test for diabetes with sugar syrup and guess what- it turned out i had pre-diabetes.
- He sent me to a gyno too, she found multiple cysts on my ovaries.