Weight Gain from Birth Control may be Influenced by Genes

The majority of birth control methods have no effect on your weight. However, some procedures may induce weight gain in some persons. There has been a great deal of research done on typical birth control side effects. Furthermore, studies suggest that the pill, ring, patch, and IUD do not cause you to gain or lose weight.

According to a study conducted by experts at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, a woman’s genetic make-up may cause her to gain weight when using a popular method of birth control.

“For years, women have claimed that birth control causes them to gain weight, but many doctors have neglected to take them seriously,” said the study’s primary author, Aaron Lazorwitz, MD, assistant professor of Obstetrics/Gynecology and Family Planning at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. “Now we’ve looked at the genetics and discovered that the way genes interact with some hormones in birth control may help explain why some women gain more weight than others.”

The study, which was published online today in the journal Contraception, focused on the etonogestrel contraceptive implant. The rod-like implant is put beneath the skin and contains etonogestrel, a kind of progestin that prevents ovulation.

For years, women have claimed that birth control causes them to gain weight, but many doctors have neglected to take them seriously. Now we’ve looked at the genetics and discovered that the way genes interact with some hormones in birth control may help explain why some women gain more weight than others.

Aaron Lazorwitz

The researchers examined medical records to determine weight changes from the time the implant was placed to the time the women enrolled in the study. They discovered a median weight change of +3.2 kg, or approximately 7 pounds gained, during an average of 27 months of use in 276 ethnically varied patients. The vast majority of individuals (73.9 percent) gained weight.

Lazorwitz and his colleagues analyzed the genetics of the participants and how they would interact with the birth control medicine within the implant using pharmacogenomics, which is the study of how genes affect a person’s response to drugs.

They speculated that polymorphisms in genes encoding proteins that degrade and interact with progestin and estrogen hormones could be the answer. Finally, they discovered that genetic variations in estrogen receptor 1 (ESR1) were linked to clinically substantial weight gain in some research participants.

ESR1 is located on chromosome 6. When activated, it encodes an estrogen receptor that participates in cellular hormone binding and DNA transcription. Previous research has discovered links between ESR1 genetic variations and how effectively other drugs operate.

Genes may play a role in weight gain from birth control

Women with two copies of the ESR1 rs9340799 variation gained more than 30 pounds more while using the contraceptive implant than all other women in the research. The study focused on the etonogestrel contraceptive implant, but other birth control medicines may have comparable interactions with genes that cause weight gain.

“It is critical to better understand how individual genetic diversity may influence a woman’s risk of undesirable weight gain when utilizing exogenous steroid hormone drugs,” Lazorwitz added. There is no way to forecast who will be affected for the time being. Health care providers can warn patients about probable weight gain or recommend alternative kinds of birth control, such as copper IUDs, which do not contain hormones.

“As our understanding of pharmacogenomics in women’s health grows,” Lazorwitz said, “we can provide tailored counseling that may lower the incidence of hormone-related adverse effects, enhance patient satisfaction, and assist prevent future health concerns linked with weight gain.”

Because everyone’s body is distinct, birth control affects everyone differently. Birth control, on the other hand, should not cause complications in your daily life; it is there to aid you. So If you experience birth control weight gain and it bothers you, or if you observe any unwanted side effects, speak with a nurse or doctor (like the ones at your closest Planned Parenthood health center). They may be able to assist you in locating a different type of birth control that works better for you. Many people try a few different methods of birth control before finding one that works well for them.

When you stop using your birth control method, any negative effects will fade within a few months and your body will gradually return to how it was before you started using it.