About Weight Loss After Stopping the Pill

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Some people lose weight after stopping birth control.
Some people lose weight after stopping birth control. (Image: Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of D. Sharon Pruitt)

One of the most dreaded side effects of using hormonal birth control measures is the risk of weight gain associated with birth control. Because women can gain about 3 pounds over three years of taking the Pill, many look forward to losing weight when they stop using hormonal birth control.

Time Frame

After you stop using birth control pills, it can take one to three months for your body to return to its normal menstrual cycle. Some women might need as long as six months of readjustment after they cease birth control.

Effects

Using birth control with high levels of estrogen can cause your body to retain water. Within a few weeks of stopping birth control, you might notice that your thighs, breasts and hips seem smaller even if you don't see a drop in the numbers on the scale. This is caused by the release of water weight.

Women taking birth control also have to work harder to gain muscle mass, according to a study at Texas A&M University. The study found that women who weren't using birth control pills could gain 60 percent more muscle mass than those who were. Stopping birth control might make it easier to build muscle mass doing the same workout you did when taking the Pill.

Considerations

If you gained weight while taking the Pill, it might be easier for you to lose weight after you stop taking it.

If you've switched to another method of birth control, keep in mind that contraceptive shots are more likely than the Pill to cause weight gain. Women who used a contraceptive shot for birth control gained 11.26 pounds over a three-year period, 8 pounds more than those who took the Pill over three years, according to a study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Potential

If you're hoping to lose weight after stopping the Pill, talk with your doctor about a healthy diet and exercise plan that will help you burn calories. Because your body is better able to build muscle when you aren't taking the Pill, a combination of strength training and cardiovascular exercise is likely to give you the best results. Reducing your intake to 1,500 to 1,800 calories today and focusing on whole grains, fruits and vegetables and lean meats can also contribute to healthy weight loss.

Warning

Not all women lose weight when they stop taking the Pill. Some—including "Dancing With the Stars" celebrity Cheryl Burke—find they gain when they cease to take birth control.

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