Does the Pill Cause Weight Gain?

Weight gain is a common concern for many women considering hormonal contraceptives like the pill. To shed light on this crucial aspect, we aim to clarify whether you should anticipate weight gain when using the pill. Let’s dive into the facts and dispel the myths surrounding this topic.

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How does Weight Gain Occur?

Weight gain can be influenced by various factors, and regardless of the underlying cause, the result on the scale remains the same – an increase in weight. While the immediate focus may shift to body fat and dieting to shed the extra pounds, it’s essential to explore other potential reasons contributing to weight changes.

In some instances, short-term weight gain may be attributed to water retention. This retention can be cycle-related or triggered by factors like taking the pill, other medications, or even weather changes. These fluctuations in weight due to water retention can amount to approximately 2 kg and are generally harmless. Importantly, they are challenging to control independently. To understand and manage weight fluctuations effectively, it is crucial to discern between different causes and address them accordingly.

Weight gain can be a result of an increase in muscle mass. However, this component is not always evident by simply stepping on a scale. A bio-impedance analysis is needed to assess body composition accurately. This analysis helps differentiate between muscle mass, water, and fat content. It’s essential to conduct the initial measurement before any weight changes occur to determine the origin of the extra weight.

Weight gain can, of course, also be body fat, but it does not occur suddenly, tending to accumulate over time. Unlike water retention, shedding body fat is not as swift. This type of weight gain is often associated with an imbalance between calorie intake and expenditure. In simple terms, consuming too much food while not engaging in enough physical activity. The good news is that both of these factors are within your control.

Does the Pill Cause Weight Gain?

In short: no. While you might have probably heard anecdotes about friends or acquaintances gaining weight after starting the pill, there is no direct connection between the two. Any changes in hormone balance can potentially lead to water retention, but this effect is generally limited to one to two kilos, and, as mentioned earlier, these fluctuations are normal.

Extensive research comprising 49 studies investigating the possible link between the pill and weight gain reached a unanimous conclusion: there is no significant association. These studies analyzed 52 different types of contraceptive pills, including the composition of various preparations. So, you can rest assured: the pill will not make you gain weight [1],[2],[3]!

How do You Explain Occasional Weight Gain?

As previously discussed, weight gain fundamentally occurs when you consume more calories than your body expends.

When it comes to your body weight, the ultimate responsibility lies with you and the choices you make regarding your diet and lifestyle. No one else determines what you eat or how much you consume, making you solely accountable for any changes in body fat, including belly fat. Rest assured, the pill itself is not to blame for these fluctuations. If you have observed an increase in your weight since starting the pill, it is essential to reflect on other factors that may have changed in your life during this time.

Occasionally, timing can create misconceptions. The act of taking the pill and starting a new relationship might coincide, leading some to believe that the pill causes weight gain. However, let’s shed light on the truth. In reality, both men and women often experience slight weight gain when entering a new partnership. The old saying, “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach,” might indeed hold some truth. Relationship dynamics and shared indulgences can lead to changes in eating habits and, consequently, body weight.

However, it is crucial to understand that weight gain, in general, results from lifestyle changes and dietary habits. Could it be that new relationship where you two indulge in pizza dates and ice cream marathons? Maybe you’ve changed canteens or cafeterias, got a new job, or moved out of your home into a shared apartment where eating habits are different from your own. Perhaps you have more stress in your life, or less time for sports, have a new, stationary hobby, or swapped your bike for a car?

For some women with endometriosis, certain sports may exacerbate their pain, leading to reduced physical activity. This decrease in movement might indirectly contribute to weight gain. In such cases, finding alternative sports that provide comfort and joy can be beneficial. Maintaining a balance between exercise and rest not only helps with weight management but also with managing pain.

Ultimately, it is essential to recognize that the reasons for weight gain on the pill are the same as those during menopause: changes in behavior, not hormones. As tempting as it might be to attribute weight gain to the pill, scientific evidence consistently disproves this notion.

So, you can confidently use hormonal contraception without worrying about weight gain. The pill does not make you fat!

Good to know!

Causes of weight gain while taking the pill may include:

  • Water retention
  • Change in lifestyle and/or eating habits
  • Reduction in sport and exercise due to pain


Mayeda ER, Torgal AH, Westhoff CL. Weight and Body Composition Changes During Oral Contraceptive Use in Obese and Normal Weight Women. J Womens Health (Larchmt) [Internet]. 2014 Jan 1 [cited 2021 Jul 23];23(1):38–43. Available from:
Information NC for B, Pike USNL of M 8600 R, MD B, Usa 20894. Contraception: Do hormonal contraceptives cause weight gain? [Internet]. Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2017 [cited 2021 Jul 23]. Available from:
Gallo MF, Lopez LM, Grimes DA, Carayon F, Schulz KF, Helmerhorst FM. Combination contraceptives: effects on weight. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014 Jan 29;(1):CD003987.
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