Study Suggests Hormonal Contraceptives Do Not Cause Women to Gain Weight


WASHINGTON — Women's perceptions that they gain weight when taking hormonal contraceptives are not realities, according to a randomized study.

Data from a poster presented at the annual meeting of the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals refuted the long-held association between use of hormonal contraception and weight gain, showing that women's perceived weight changes didn't match their actual weight changes while using contraceptives.

Concerns about weight gain may lead women to discontinue hormonal contraception, according to Lauren Osborne, a graduate student, and colleagues at Columbia University, New York. No significant weight changes occurred from baseline among women who used hormonal contraception in the form of either a pill or the vaginal ring in their randomized study of 201 subjects.

Overall, 167 of the 201 women completed three menstrual cycles using either oral contraception in the form of Ortho TriCyclen Lo (ethinyl estradiol and norgestimate) or a vaginal contraceptive ring (ethinyl estradiol and etonogestrel). The study was supported by a grant from Organon Pharmaceuticals Inc., maker of the NuvaRing vaginal contraceptive ring.

On average, the women who participated in the study gained 2.8 pounds, regardless of baseline weight or BMI and type of contraceptive used. The 34 women who reported a “bad change” in weight at the study's end had gained an average of 4.4 pounds, while the 112 women who reported “no change” had gained 2.2 pounds, and the 14 women who reported a “good change” had gained 3.3 pounds.

The mean weight of all the women studied was 146 pounds, and included women with BMIs in the healthy (less than 25), overweight (from 25 to 30), and obese (greater than 30) range.

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