Choosing a safe and effective contraception method is essential for women during childbearing age. However, the effectiveness of contraception methods depends on several factors such as weight, health, and age.
For overweight women, it is essential to use the correct birth control method to prevent unwanted pregnancies.
Body Mass Index (BMI)
Clinically, a person’s weight is categorized as underweight, normal, overweight, and obese using the Body Mass Index (BMI). BMI depends on body weight and height.
A BMI value between 25 and 30 is considered overweight. However, it is essential to keep in mind that BMI is not the most accurate way to measure obesity as it does not consider the person’s muscle mass.
The Effect of Weight on Birth Control
Various studies have shown that some birth control methods are less effective in overweight women. When birth control pills were tested, the population was much smaller, hence testing the drugs’ effectiveness on thinner women.
Medications in an overweight woman are absorbed differently from women with a normal BMI. Therefore, some studies have shown a higher failure rate in overweight women.
Birth Control Methods for Overweight Women
The best birth control methods for overweight women with a BMI of 25 to 30 are:
- Intrauterine Device (IUD)
- Birth Control Implants
- Birth Control Patch
- Birth Control Pills
Intrauterine Device (IUD)
An IUD is a small T-shaped device made of copper and plastic. It is placed inside a woman’s womb to prevent pregnancy. The device releases copper into the womb, making it difficult for the sperm to reach the egg and cause pregnancy.
An IUD is 99% effective and can last in the womb for 5 to 10 years. It is one of the best contraceptive methods for overweight women as it does not release any hormones.
Birth Control Implants
Birth Control Implant, also known as Nexplanon, is a small rod implanted under the upper arm’s skin. It helps prevent pregnancy by releasing the hormone progestin.
Birth Control Implants can last for up to 5 years. It was found that the failure rate in both overweight and normal women is 1 in 100.
Birth Control Patch
Birth control patch is less invasive compared to IUD and Birth Control Implants. It is a small sticky patch that is applied to the skin. It releases a daily dose of estrogen and progestogen to prevent pregnancy.
The patch is applied weekly for three weeks and is removed at week four to allow menstruation. If used correctly, the method is 99% effective.
However, it is recommended by the NHS not to be used by women who weigh 90 kg or more.
Birth Control Pills
Birth control pills are the most known method for contraception. It consists of tablets that are taken orally. There are two types of birth control pills, which are the combination pill and progestin-only pill.
The combination pill is made of estrogen and progestin, which prevents the body from ovulating and thickens the cervical mucus to prevent pregnancy.
Progestin-only pills thicken the cervical mucus to prevent the egg from implanting and causing pregnancy.
Meanwhile, there are no studies showing that birth control pills are less effective in overweight individuals; however, many advise overweight women not to take birth control pills because it leaves room for error.
Moreover, many doctors recommend overweight women skip the placebo pills to stabilize the hormone levels and reduce error. Please talk to your doctor before deciding to take birth control pills.
Frequently Ask Questions
Do birth control pills work if you are overweight?
There are no studies showing that birth control pills are less effective in overweight women. However, many human errors can occur when taking birth control pills, such as missing a dosage. It is recommended to consult your doctor about birth control pills before taking them.
Which contraceptive is best for the overweight?
Each woman is different, and hence there is no one best method of contraception. If you tend to forget to take your medication, it is highly recommended not to take birth control pills, decreasing your chances of error. To know which contraceptive method is best for your weight, health, and age, consult with your doctor.
Is there a weight limit for birth control?
Most birth control methods have no weight limit. However, inserting an IUD for an overweight woman can be difficult, and hence it is best to consult with several doctors before undergoing the procedure.
Moreover, the NHS does not recommend birth control patches for women over 90 kg as their effectiveness reduces.