Boots WebMD Partners in Health
Return To Boots

Contraception health centre

The contraceptive Pill and weight gain

Despite the commonly repeated myth, the NHS says there's no evidence the contraceptive pill makes women gain weight.

Oral contraceptives and (very little) weight gain

All medications can have side effects for some of the people using them.

For a few women, the contraceptive pill may cause some weight gain, often due to fluid retention.

A review of evidence from 44 studies showed no evidence that the contraceptive pill caused weight gain in most women. If there is any weight gain, it is usually temporary, going away within 2 to 3 months.

While weight gain is an uncommon and temporary side effect of the contraceptive pill, if you happen to be one of those few women who put on weight, talk to your GP or family planning clinic doctor. They may suggest a different type of oral contraceptive. Why? Because not all pills are the same.

There are two types of the contraceptive pill: combined oral contraceptive pills, which contain oestrogen and progestogen, and progestogen-only pills. Each brand or type of the contraceptive pill may offer a slightly different type of the hormone, at different doses, which could mean different. side-effects, including weight gain.

If you have concerns about weight gain and the Pill, a doctor or health professional at the family planning clinic may suggest waiting 3 months to see if the effect is temporary.

How did the myth about the contraceptive pill and weight gain get started?

When contraceptive pills were first made available in the early 1960s, they had very high levels of oestrogen and progestogen - nearly 1,000 times more hormones than most women needed for effective contraception. Oestrogen in high doses can cause weight gain due to increased appetite and fluid retention.

But that's the old Pill, not today's versions that have much lower amounts of hormones, but are still one of the most effective forms of contraception available when used correctly.

WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on September 15, 2016

Stay informed

Sign up for BootsWebMD's free newsletters.
Sign Up Now!

Popular slideshows & tools on BootsWebMD

woman_holding_head_in_pain
How to help headache pain
rash on skin
Top eczema triggers to avoid
boost your metabolism
Foods to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol
period_questions_answered
Tips to support digestive health
woman looking at pregnancy test
Is your body ready for pregnancy?
sick child
Dos and don'ts for childhood eczema
couple makigh salad
Nutrition for over 50s
bucket with cleaning supplies in it
Cleaning and organising tips
adult man contemplating
When illness makes it hard to eat
Allergies
Allergy myths and facts
woman holding stomach
Understand this common condition