I want birth control but I don’t want…
… to gain weight
Many women ask me about weight gain from birth control. The reality is that many women experience weight gain which they attribute to their contraception. This question has been studied in large medical trials and weight gain occurred equally in both women on hormonal birth control as well as those off of it. There is one exception to this… the Depot-Provera shot.
Depot-Provera has the largest dose progesterone hormone and this is injected once every 3 months, which works very well to stop us from getting pregnant. Unfortunately, along with other side effects, it makes us gain an average of 1 kg per year while we are on it. If you do not want weight gain this is definitely NOT the product for you.
It’s also important to know that worrying about weight gain means you’re looking for the lowest progesterone dose possible in your birth control. The right products for you may be the hormonal IUDs (Kyleena has the lowest dose progesterone out of any hormonal product on the market in Canada, and Mirena is also very low dose compared to all other hormonal contraceptives). The Nexplanon Implant is also a very low dose progesterone (though a bit higher dose than the hormonal IUDs) and would be very unlikely to be responsible for weight gain. Lastly, the non-hormonal IUD (Copper T, Mona Lisa, and there are many more) have no hormones in them so would not be causing any weight changes.
… to mess up my mood
Many women already struggle with mood, and adding another obstacle to tackle emotionally is the last thing they need. Pregnancy, parenthood and abortion may also be emotionally difficult and so, of course, they are interested in finding a product that does this job without affecting their emotions.
As I wrote in the last paragraph above, looking for products which affect mood the least means looking for birth control with the least amount of Progesterone hormone (one of the chemicals responsible for mood changes during our natural cycles as well as inside our birth control). In pill form, there are 2 products which help improve PMS (pre menstrual syndrome) and actually clear up acne as well (give it 3-4 months for this effect) :
In IUD form you can use ANY of the IUDs. Any non-hormonal IUD is not expected to affect your mood at all. The hormonal IUDs have the lowest dose of hormone out of all hormonal birth control options. I have seen patients with mood symptoms while these are in their bodies, but this is VERY rare and studies have not picked up on this side effect. Start with Kyleena which has a lower dose of progesterone than Mirena.
… to have to remember to take it
The lowest maintenance methods for birth control are also the most effective at protecting you from pregnancy:
any of the IUDs (Copper/Non-hormonal, Kyleena or Mirena)
the Nexplanon Implant
tubal ligation (if you are done having children and won’t change your mind)
If these sound too invasive, you can always see if it works better for you to remember to take contraceptives only every week (the Evra-Patch) or every 3 weeks (the Nuvaring vaginal ring). The final method with low maintenance is the ‘Depot-shot’ (Depot-Provera), which is injected at the doctor’s office every 3 months. Keep in mind that Depot-Provera is associated with 1 kg on average weight gain per year and may cause mood changes, bone density loss after 2 years and acne (among other, less common side effects).
... to get pregnant
Whatever you do decide to use make sure it'll work. This means that it's something that doesn't feel wrong (or feels the least wrong out of all the options), you won't find it hard to take and you won't have to break the bank to get it. Remember no method is 100%, so keep taking those pregnancy tests if your status changes.