Most methods will not cause weight gain. Many young women are starting birth control for the first time while their body is going through many other changes. Some women gain weight naturally when transitioning from their teens into their twenties. If that happens to be when a woman starts birth control, it’s easy to put the blame on the pill, patch, the implant, the hormonal IUD, or ring. The truth is each of these methods can be used without an expected weight gain. A recent study showed about 1 in 4 women who use the shot will gain some weight. However, the majority of women (3 out of 4) don’t gain much weight. So most women using the shot are able to keep their weight steady with healthy eating and regular exercise.
Birth control shot
Will birth control make me gain weight?
It seems like every birth control has side effects. Is it really worth it?
Any medicine has some side effects, but when people hear the negative stuff, it sticks in their brain like a cheesy old song you can’t stop humming. That’s just human nature, and it happens to all of us.
Remember that drug companies list every single scary thing you could possibly experience with a medication. Even if it’s super rare. They have to. It’s the law. So before you run for the hills, consider this: the potential side effects of something as harmless as aspirin are pretty scary when you read them, too. Birth control is definitely worth it if you aren’t ready to have a baby. Trust us, pregnancy has more side effects than we can count. There are so many different birth control methods that there’s something for everyone.
If I don’t like being on the shot, do I have to wait three months for it to go away?
Yep. Pretty much. It can stay in your system for up to 10 months after your last shot.
Want to learn more?
Am I going to stop having my period on the shot?
It’s totally normal to stop having your period on the shot. (Just think of it-no period! Kinda nice, eh?) So don’t let it freak you out, as long as you’ve been getting your shots on time, every 3 months. If you were late getting a shot, then take a pregnancy test.
Won't the shots make my bones thinner?
In premenopausal women who use the shot for up to 5 years, bone mineral density loss associated with the shot is similar to the bone loss associated with breastfeeding. And that loss is substantially reversed after going off of the shot.
Environmental factors, like nutrition and exercise, have a bigger impact on bone mass than the shot.
Does the shot have any health benefits?
The shot stops or lightens periods, so it can really help women with things like anemia or endometriosis. Using the shot now can help protect your uterus from cancer later on in life. A couple other little-known tidbits: If you have sickle cell disease, the shot may help you have fewer sickle crises. Or if you have grand mal seizures, the shot can decrease the risk of those, too.
Will the shot make me lose my hair?
One out of every 40 or 50 shot users experience some hair loss. Usually this is more like seeing extra hair on the brush or shower drain (kind of like after a woman gives birth and progesterone levels are similarly high). Realistically, a woman is not going to go bald or have noticeably thinner hair on the shot.
Am I going to have spotting with the shot?
Almost every woman spots a bit for the first three months, but the spotting usually gets better—or goes away completely—after that.
How effective is the shot at preventing pregnancy?
As long as you get your shots on time, this method is very effective. With perfect use the shot is more than 99% effective; with typical use, the it’s closer to 94%.
In other words:
Of those women who use the shot exactly as directed, fewer than 1 in 100 will experience an accidental pregnancy during the first year of using this method.
Of those women who do not use the shot exactly as directed, fewer than 6 in 100 will experience an accidental pregnancy during the first year of using this method.
Want to learn more?
What are good methods for women with high blood pressure?
For women with high blood pressure, methods with estrogen–the pill (except for the mini-pill), the ring, and the patch–may make their blood pressure even higher, increasing the risk of a heart attack or stroke. Fortunately there are lots of highly effective birth control options that are safe and estrogen-free like the IUD, the implant, or the shot. Talk to your doctor about your condition and what birth control is best for you.
Which birth control method will help reduce my cramps?
Most women who use hormonal birth control–the pill, the ring, the shot, the patch, the implant, or a hormonal IUD–will have less painful periods than those who don’t. This is because these methods of birth control make the lining of the uterus thinner. There’s less tissue in the uterus to shed, so periods are lighter. One special note on the implant and the shot: for some women, these methods cause more days of spotting or bleeding, but periods become lighter and less painful overall.
Is it safe to lose blood by spotting a lot?
Spotting, which can happen with a bunch of different methods, doesn’t make you lose that much blood, even though it might seem like it. We have a Provider Perspective article about it if you want to learn more.
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