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Reality Check About Birth Control Implants And Weight Gain

September 11th, 2017

Reality Check About Birth Control Implants And Weight Gain

Reality Check About Birth Control Implants And Weight Gain

There are many contraceptive options available however hormonal implants are usually considered the best as they offer a removable birth control option. However, most hormonal contraceptives are thought to be associated with noticeable side effects such as weight gain. In recent years, the research has specifically targeted this theory. Based on the scientific evidence, it has been concluded that weight gain is a possible side effect that may occur in some susceptible women who use hormonal implants.

What Makes Weight Gain A Possible Side Effect?

In order to assess the side effects, it is necessary to understand the working principle and mode of action of hormonal implants.

The implant is a depot formulation of hormones like progesterone that is inserted into the arm by a trained doctor. Once placed successfully, it begins to release the active hormone such as Etonogestrel into the blood stream, which is a synthetic analogue of a naturally occurring hormone. The synthetic hormone works exactly like a natural biological hormone called Progesterone that plays a vital role in regulating the menstrual cycle, in combination with other hormones like Estrogen. The constant release of etonogestrel causes hormonal imbalance which may contribute to weight gain.

Is There Any Scientific Evidence That Can Explain This Association?

Despite the fact that weight gain has been repeatedly linked as a potential side effect of the implant, it is still a dilemma whether the two are actually related. Based on the findings of several studies, birth control implants and weight gain may have no direct link.

A study conducted back in 2016 reported that women who used birth control implants did not put on additional weight even when they thought they did. This may be due to the psychological factor as many people believe that implants promote weight gain due to hormone administration; however, research has a different story to tell.

IUD As A Birth Control Method image

Another study focused on the oral contraceptives (progestin-only pills) and implants and revealed that there was no weight gain noted in the participating women. The study even went a step further to suggest that women who opt for birth control must be thoroughly counselled regarding how they should not quit when they are half way through due to concerns related to weight gain.

Some predisposing factors that may trigger weight gain in women who use hormonal implants are:

  • Unhealthy lifestyle
  • Physiological aging
  • Improper diet
  • Medical condition

Apart from weight gain, other serious side effects of birth control implants include:

  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Stomach pains
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Soreness of breasts
  • Acne
  • Headache
  • Irregular menstrual cycle
  • Inflammation of vagina
  • Bruising or pain at the site of implant

In case if you are experiencing any of the above side effects it is necessary to report to the doctor right away. Having an implant does not mean there couldn’t be any more birth control options. Some women may not find it comfortable and convenient. Consulting the doctor sharing the related concerns and experiences can help the situation from getting out of hands. For women who do not find hormonal implant as a suitable birth option, there are several other birth control strategies.


  • Wilson, S., Tennant, C., Sammel, M. D., & Schreiber, C. (2014). Immediate postpartum etonogestrel implant: a contraception option with long-term continuation. Contraception, 90(3), 259-264.
  • Gallo, M. F., Legardy-Williams, J., Hylton-Kong, T., Rattray, C., Kourtis, A. P., Jamieson, D. J., & Steiner, M. J. (2016). Association of progestin contraceptive implant and weight gain. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 127(3), 573-576.

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