By Thaddeus M. Baklinski

GALVESTON, Texas, August 12, 2009 ( – A study by Drs. Abbey B. Berenson and Mahbubur Rahman of The University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, has found women who use the injectable hormonal contraceptive DMPA (depot medroxyprogesterone acetate) experience a significant increase in body weight and fat, and the obesity may persist even after stopping DMPA use.

The research, published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, involved 703 women who were beginning the use of either birth control pills or DMPA, and compared them to women who used a form of non-hormone contraception.

Over the 3 year study period, DMPA users gained significantly more body fat than oral contraceptive (OC) and non-hormone (NH) contraception users, the researchers reported, adding that women of normal weight were found to gain much more body fat than women who were obese at the beginning of the study.

“It is a concern that women who were not obese at the start of the study were twice as likely to become obese over the next 3 years if they selected DMPA over non-hormone contraception,” Berenson and Rahman write.

Though OC use did not cause significant weight gain, the researchers reported the often observed loss of muscle mass associated with use of the pill.

“OC users did not gain more weight than NH users but did increase their fat mass and percent body fat and lost significantly more lean body mass than did NH and DMPA users,” the report states

In a 2 year follow up of the original study to examine the reversibility of the observed changes, the research team found that women who discontinued use of DMPA and switched to non-hormone contraception lost most of the fat they had gained. However, women who discontinued use of DMPA and began using oral contraceptives either kept the fat they had accumulated or gained more weight.

A huge amount of research information is available on the negative effects of contraceptives, with injectable hormonal contraceptives and the “patch” being especially harmful. Adverse reaction reports of stroke and heart attack are increasing annually and studies linking hormonal contraceptives to everything from osteoporosis to diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

Mercedes Wilson, founder and president of the natural family planning (NFP) organization, Family for the Americas, observed that hormonal contraception is devastating women’s health in the third world.

“The pill, IUDs, injections, and the patch are devastating to the poor because they all carry the same steroids, which are known to be toxic and carcinogenic. 21 scientists with the World Health Organization in 2005 confirmed that estrogens in birth control methods are carcinogenic of the number one type, which is the most dangerous type of all,” Wilson told LSN in an interview in 2008.

“In the third world, however, they are still using the 3-month injections the most,” Wilson noted. “It does so much harm to the poor. They are given it while mothers’ are breastfeeding their babies. The steroids are going right through the breast milk to the babies and that is a calamity. It causes cancer, heart disease, you name it; the list is interminable. And with the lack of the health facilities in the third world, it is criminal.”

See related LSN reports:
Interview with World’s Leading Proponent of Natural Family Planning on the Dangers of Contraception

Noted Endocrinologist Dispels the Myth of Health Benefits of the Pill

Oral Contraceptives Decrease Bone Density