What Is the Best Birth Control for Weight Loss?

By Latifa deGraft-Johnson, MD
Medically reviewed checkmarkMedically reviewed
April 25, 2022

Many of us have been surprised to find weight gain and weight loss listed as side effects of hormonal birth control.

If you worry about this, or are wondering if there is a way to avoid weight gain or loss while taking birth control, this article may help you out.

Birth Control and Weight Changes

You will often hear about people gaining and losing weight while on birth control or worrying about the two.

There is a very real pressure in our society for people to conform to a certain body type or standard, and some people may be afraid to use hormonal birth control methods, for fear of gaining or losing weight.

However, of the many studies that have been conducted, there is insufficient evidence that birth control directly causes weight gain or loss.

This does not definitively mean that weight gain isn’t a side effect of taking birth control—there just needs to be more research on the subject. 

Some small-scale studies have found significant evidence of a relationship between weight gain and the birth control shot in some people, but more research is needed to make a definitive conclusion on the subject. 

You may feel like you have lost weight if you are prone to water retention and if you use a contraceptive that has a diuretic effect, because the diuretic element will help remove excess water from your body, resulting in less bloating.

Although it is often listed as a potential side effect, birth control does not promote weight loss, and no birth control has been designed to promote weight loss. 

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Different Types of Birth Control

There are many types of birth control, so you can match your lifestyle to your contraception needs.

Hormonal birth control

This variety of birth control releases synthetic hormones in the body to prevent or delay ovulation and your menstrual cycle.

Hormonal birth control comes in the form of pills, patches, shots and vaginal rings.

These methods are used daily, weekly, or monthly, depending on the type of birth control. 

People commonly worry that hormonal birth control will cause weight gain.

Certain people will gain weight while taking hormonal birth control, while others will experience symptoms like bloating that make them feel like they have gained weight.

Because of the fear of gaining weight, some people would prefer not to use hormonal birth control.

Additionally, people who gained weight while using oral contraceptives or the birth control shot are more likely to stop using those methods because of that side effect. 

Long-acting reversible contraception

This category of birth control consists of implants and intrauterine devices (IUDs).

For these methods, the device must be inserted into the body by a healthcare professional.

These forms of birth control are designed to last many years or, in one case with the copper IUD, an entire decade.

Once that period of time ends, the device will be removed by a healthcare professional and a new device will be inserted if you so choose.

Most implants or IUDs are hormonal, although there is a non-hormonal copper IUD option (Paragard).  

Barrier methods

Barrier-style birth control simply means having a physical barrier to stop sperm from getting inside the uterus.

Contraceptives like external and internal condoms, diaphragms, cervical caps, and spermicides are all barrier birth control methods.

This form of birth control is less effective than other methods, such as the combination pill or IUDs. 

Emergency contraceptives

Emergency contraceptives are only used when you have had unprotected sex and need to prevent a pregnancy.

They mainly come in the form of the Plan B pill, although copper IUDs are considered to be the most effective emergency contraceptive option

Choosing the right birth control method for you 

There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing a birth control method, and no one birth control method will be right for everyone.

A healthcare provider can help you decide which method might be the best for you. 

This decision can depend on many factors, such as: 

  • Your desire to become pregnant in the near or distant future
  • How sexually active you are
  • Your overall health
  • Other medications you may take
  • Side effects and risks 
  • Age
  • Health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, or sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

Birth Control Methods that May Cause Weight Loss

There is no form of birth control that was designed to promote or induce weight loss.

However, some forms come with a smaller chance of weight gain while using them. 

Barrier methods

Any barrier birth control method, such as condoms or diaphragms, acts as a physical barrier that blocks the sperm from reaching the egg.

This method does not contain any hormones and, therefore, could not have any effect on a person’s weight.

This method, however, is not as effective as other contraceptives.

Studies show that out of 100 people, 12-28 will become pregnant with typical use of barrier birth control methods. 

Paragard

Paragard, also known as the copper IUD, does not contain hormones.

Instead, this IUD uses copper to prevent sperm from reaching the egg because copper is poisonous to sperm.

This IUD is more than 99 percent effective in pregnancy prevention and can be kept in for up to 10 years.

The copper IUD can also be used as an emergency contraceptive method if needed. 

Combination pills

Combination birth control pills contain estrogen and synthetic progestin.

Yasmin, a brand of combination birth control pill, uses an alternative to progestin called drospirenone.

Drospirenone acts as a diuretic, meaning you are less likely to have water retention, and, therefore, less likely to gain weight.

Combination birth control pills are over 99 percent effective with correct use. 

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Avoiding Weight Gain on Birth Control

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle through things like eating a balanced diet and adding more physical activity into your daily life can help you manage your weight.

You can also limit the amount of sugary, fatty, or salty foods you consume in a day.

Hydration is another key part of staying healthy. In fact, drinking enough water can help with weight loss

When to See a Medical Provider

If you are unhappy with the way that you feel while taking your contraception, contact your healthcare professional.

There are dozens of options to help you lead a more comfortable or healthier lifestyle, and a healthcare provider can help you navigate them all. 

If you begin to experience significant weight gain or loss, reach out to your healthcare provider to discuss why this may be happening and what you can do to resolve it.

How K Health Can Help

Did you know you can get affordable virtual primary care with K Health?

Check your symptoms, explore conditions and treatments, and if needed, text with a healthcare provider in minutes. 

K Health’s AI-powered app is HIPAA compliant and is based on 20 years of clinical data.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can birth control cause weight gain?
Birth control has not been scientifically proven to cause weight gain. However, side effects such as hormonal imbalance may contribute to changes in weight after beginning the medication.
How much weight can be gained on birth control?
When taking birth control, weight fluctuation can be mild, severe, or nonexistent—it is a case-by-case symptom that is different for every person. It is important to monitor just how much your weight changes, if at all, and contact your healthcare provider if drastic changes occur.
Do you lose weight when you stop taking birth control?
Changes in hormonal balance may cause changes in weight, but this will depend more heavily on a person’s diet and the amount of exercise they regularly get. Stopping birth control can lead to weight changes, although there is no concrete scientific data that links the two.

K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

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Latifa deGraft-Johnson, MD

Dr. Latifa deGraft-Johnson is a board-certified family medicine physician with 20 years of experience. She received her bachelor's degree from St. Louis University, her medical degree from Ross University, and completed her family medicine residency at the University of Florida. Her passion is in preventative medicine and empowering her patients with knowledge.

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