For decades, there have been myths galore about birth control pills. One of the most notorious: That going on hormonal contraceptives is bound to cause weight gain.
In a recent story on HerCampus.com, Dr. Anne Burke, an associate professor of gynecology at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, MD, is trying to set the record straight on that worry many women still have. She notes, "Some women may gain weight on the pill, but most really do not." Instead, she goes on to suggest that women consider "diet, lifestyle, alcohol, exercise, sodas/sports drinks," which might be the real culprits of weight gain as opposed to the pill. Uggghhhhhh. Yes. Because we ladies are so dense that we have absolutely no clue when the scale is skyrocketing due to too many red velvet treats and skipped cardio sessions. That birth control pill script is just an innocent scapegoat. Give me a break!
Of course lifestyle or natural growth spurts/puberty could contribute or be the cause of weight gain, but it also bears noting that the amount of estrogen or any of the faux hormones in birth control pills can influence water retention, energy, mood, metabolism (women who do not metabolize glucose properly are the ones who seem to be at a greater risk for weight gain), appetite, etc. To minimize that is just wrong and makes women feel like they must be crazy for experiencing certain side effects when they're on the pill.
The best thing Dr. Burke offers in her interview is the following: "We don’t fully understand ... how different individuals respond to any medication.” Instead of being downright defensive and claiming that weight gain or other "strange symptoms" (MIA sex drive, vaginal dryness, migraines, gallstones, blood clots, depression, etc.) are all in women's heads, she's actually sort of admitting that not all women are exactly the same. That we all have different tendencies and hormone levels, which could certainly be influenced for better or worse when a lab-created, synthetic hormone-packed pill effectively shuts down our ovaries' hormone production. How refreshing.
Ultimately, the truth about gaining weight on the pill isn't as cut and dry as I'm sure pharmaceutical companies would love us to believe. Going on the pill -- any pill or birth control method -- is a completely personal, individual situation. That said, it would be ideal if health care providers would treat women holistically when prescribing a drug that could potentially wreak havoc on our hormones and, in turn, our whole bodies. And any concern a woman should have while on birth control -- weight gain or otherwise -- would be given credence and not dismissed as a "myth."
How do you feel about weight gain on the pill being dismissed as "myth"?