• Wed, Jun 8 2011

The Pill Isn’t Making You Fat, Says Science

You know that 20-lb weight gain you’ve been blaming on “the pill”? Well, a new study from the University of Gotherberg in Sweden suggests that that’s actually on you, fatty, now please put down the mashed potatoes and gravy. In said study, carried out over a number of years, they found that women on birth control pills didn’t gain any more weight between their teenage years and age 34 than women who were not taking the pill.

Via EurekAlert:

Despite women’s concerns about weight gain, the researchers did not find any link between being on the pill and putting on weight. The only factors that affected weight were ageing and smoking…Lindh would like this new knowledge to increase the use of the combined pill and thus reduce the risk of unwanted pregnancies.

“It’s important to let women know that the pill doesn’t affect their weight, as there’s a real fear that they will put on weight, especially among young women, and this can be one of the reasons why they don’t want to go on the pill. When giving advice about different types of contraception, we should also tell young women about the importance of lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise so that we can break this trend of heavier teenagers.”

Except you know what? I’m almost certain that’s not true. There are countless anecdotes from women all over the Internet saying that the pill made them gain weight and/or go insane with no diet or lifestyle changes whatsoever, and that these problems magically fixed themselves when they went off it. Are we to believe that every single one of these women is lying? It wouldn’t be the first time science has been condescending towards women’s experiences of their own reproductive health. In fact, when I raised this very concern with my doctor, she scoffed at me and said “maybe you should eat less.” She’s not my doctor anymore.

I didn’t think weight gain was a good enough reason to go off the pill since it was working really well for me otherwise, which is why I’m still on it. But every woman’s boundaries are different. I’m not saying you should discount this study completely, but in terms of artificial hormones’ effect on the female body, I think the jury is still out at best.

Then again, you know what makes you really fat? Pregnancy. So perhaps it’s a decent trade-off, then.

(Via Jezebel)

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  • Eileen

    Also worth noting: assuming this was a decently scientific study that controlled for variables (genetics, lifestyle), they probably had all the women on the same kind of birth control pill. But there are a ton of different types of birth control pills with different hormone levels – it’s entirely possible that this pill doesn’t lead to significant weight gain but others do.

    • Jamie Peck

      Good point!

  • Emma

    I gained like 5kg when I went on the pill, but went on it when I was nearly living with my boyfriends, so was also eating more due to having set meals and picking up on his bad habits.
    I wonder how much of the pill weight gain is couple weight gain.

    • Emma

      *boyfriend that is not boyfriends

  • http://cardiganmagazine.wordpress.com Ally

    My mum made the exact same comment to me when we were talking about me going on the pill.
    Me: I don’t want to get fatter.
    Mum: Babies make you fat. Go on the pill.