Obesity & Birth Control: Is It Less Effective If You’re Overweight?

obesity and birth control

In this article, we discuss the link between obesity and birth control. Do their effects lessen on overweight women? Let’s find out.


Birth control and contraception pills act as the single most effective method to prevent pregnancy in women who are not yet prepared for taking it up.

Even in times when the traditional contraception methods like condoms don’t seem to work, the contraceptive pills and birth control pills come to the rescue of women and couples to prevent unwanted pregnancy.

There are however some new findings that reveal the contraceptive pills may not be as effective for obese women as for regular women because of the hormonal changes observed in obese women.

Why Is Birth Control Required?

Contraception is available in many forms and contraceptive pills are just one of them. It is important to understand the need for contraception and the different reasons why women may need to use contraception and prevent pregnancy.

Understanding these reasons in greater detail will also help you understand the crisis many obese women face when their contraceptive pills fail to work. Read along and understand the different reasons:

Pregnancy is desirable only when the couple is ready to welcome a new member into the family. However, this may not be the only occasion when the woman gets pregnant. That is where the question of unwanted pregnancy comes into the picture.

Here we have listed out some of the common reasons why a pregnancy may be unwanted:

1. Health Reasons

A woman may have certain health issues that may prevent a normal pregnancy from happening. In such circumstances, having a child could be harmful to the child’s or mother’s health. These are situations where even the doctors suggest avoiding pregnancy until the health of the woman has improved.

Some women lack health and so the child gets aborted later in pregnancy. In such cases too, the doctors prescribe to avoid pregnancy till the health of the woman is completely recovered.

2. Population Control Measures

The population explosion is a major crisis that is affecting the earth’s environment is a great way. The excessive population growth has also resulted in a reduced supply of resources to the people. It is also affecting the Ecosystem.

This is the reason why most of the world’s governments insist on population control. It is always better to prevent pregnancy rather than go for abortion later.

That is the reason why there are special units set up to make people aware of family planning goals. When people understand the need to curb population growth, they use contraception and prevent the rise in population.

3. Financial Reasons

Apart from the above-listed reasons, financial constraints can also prevent a couple from choosing to go ahead with the pregnancy. A child adds to the expenses of the household and unless the couple is prepared to handle these expenses, they won’t see the sense to choose pregnancy. They would instead choose to avoid such unwanted pregnancy by using contraception.

4. Society Pressures

Even now many societies do not readily accept pregnancy before marriage. This is the reason why women who become pregnant prior to marriage go for abortion.

Contraception is always a better alternative compared to abortion and it does not hamper the health of the mother the way abortion does. For all the above-listed reasons, birth control becomes a necessity in different stages of life.

Obesity And Birth Control

Recent studies have revealed that birth control pills don’t seem to be as effective for obese women as it is for women with normal body weight.

This is because of the hormonal changes that occur in obese women differently compared to women with normal weight. While there is no clear indication as to what exactly causes this discrepancy, it is a common tendency.

While this has challenged many researchers, they have now come up with a way to deal with the issue. They suggest two reliable ways to make birth control pills work even for obese women. These suggestions are described in detail below:

1. Provide an Increased Dose of Birth Control Pills

The regular dose of birth control pills doesn’t seem to have the same effect on overweight and obese women. That is why they need to be prescribed with an increased dose of the existing birth control pills.

This will help to prevent the chance of unwanted pregnancy and the issues that may arise from it. It is however vital that women consult their doctors, do the necessary tests, and find out the most suitable medicine for their health and body weight.

2. Provide Birth Control Pills without any Interruption for Menstrual Periods to Occur

The other option suggested is to provide birth control pills continually without any interruptions or 5-7 days’ window for menstrual periods.

In many cases, women suffer from a host of other issues, especially women with polycystic ovary disorder and such other health issues, during the menstrual period.

Providing birth control pills continually can rescue such women from these unwanted symptoms too apart from protecting them from unwanted pregnancy.

Both the methods suggested above have proven effective for obese and overweight women to prevent unwanted pregnancy. Since obesity affects nearly every aspect of the human body functioning, the methods of birth control or its effectiveness also vary in the case of overweight women.

While it is difficult to judge the effectiveness of the birth control pills since most women tend to forget taking the pill at some time or the other, it is observed that the medicines show less effect in the case of obese women and so these measures are suggested.