UTMB study identifies women at risk of gaining excessive weight with injectable birth control

July 24, 2009

GALVESTON, Texas -- Researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston have identified women who are likely to gain weight while using depot medroxyprogesterone acetate, more commonly known as Depo-Provera or the birth control shot. These findings dispel the myth that all women who use DMPA will gain weight and will help physicians to counsel patients appropriately.

DMPA users whose weight increased by 5 percent within the first six months of use, called "early gainers," are at risk of continued, excessive weight gain. While 75 percent of users gained little or no weight, the early gainers averaged weight gain of 24 pounds over three years.

"DMPA-related weight gain is linked to increased abdominal fat, a known component of metabolic syndrome, which raises the risk of obesity-related conditions such as cardiovascular disease, stroke and diabetes," said corresponding author Dr. Abbey Berenson, professor in UTMB's department of obstetrics and gynecology.

The researchers recommend that physicians tailor counseling based on women's risk factors, closely monitor weight at each three-month follow-up visit and suggest a different contraception method to patients who gain significant weight within the first six months of use.

Researchers found that early gainers exhibited three major risk factors: A body mass index under 30, having children before starting DMPA and a self-reported increase in appetite after six months of DMPA use.

The study, which appears in the August issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology, followed 240 women ages 16-33 who used DMPA for up to three years. Researchers looked at several potential predictors of weight gain, including age, race, baseline obesity prior to DMPA use, lifestyle variables such as smoking and exercise level, and weight gain at six months. They found that those who had gained more than 5 percent of their body weight within six months, or after just two injections of DMPA, continued to gain significant weight during the next 30 months.

While previous studies have associated birth control-related weight gain with a higher BMI, Berenson's study suggests that a lower BMI -- under 30 -- is more predictive. "The amount of DMPA administered to a woman does not change based on weight, as occurs with some medications," Berenson said. "The drug may be more concentrated in the tissue of a woman with a BMI under 30 and may contribute to excessive weight gain, but more research is needed."

The biological mechanism of DMPA-related weight gain is still unknown, but researchers note that possible mechanisms include glucocorticoid-like activity, how the body breaks down simple carbohydrates such as glucose, and DMPA-associated interference with insulin action. Previous findings seem to argue against the theory that weight gain could be due to the drug's perceived effects on increased caloric intake and decreased energy expenditure, but ongoing research is needed to confirm or discount varying possible explanations.

DMPA is an injected contraceptive administered to patients every three months. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, more than 2 million American women use DMPA, including approximately 400,000 teens. DMPA is relatively inexpensive compared with some other forms of birth control, has a low failure rate and doesn't need to be administered daily, which contributes to the contraceptive's popularity.

This study builds upon UTMB research released earlier this year that found DMPA users gain significant weight not seen among women using oral or nonhormonal contraception. The study was supported by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Yen-Chi L. Le, of UTMB's department of obstetrics and gynecology, and Mahbubur Rahman, of UTMB's Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Women's Health, contributed to this research.
-end-
The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
Public Affairs Office
301 University Boulevard, Suite 3.102
Galveston, Texas 77555-0144
www.utmb.edu

University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston

Related Weight Gain Articles from Brightsurf:

How much postmenopause weight gain can be blamed on weight-promoting medications?
Abdominal weight gain, which is common during the postmenopause period, is associated with an array of health problems, including diabetes and heart disease.

Earlier gestational diabetes diagnosis, less weight gain
A new study has shown that initiating screening for gestational diabetes in high-risk women in the first trimester of pregnancy instead of the second trimester, allowing for treatment to start earlier, can help optimize gestational weight gain.

Research provides new insights into menopause and weight gain
Can women in menopause get the benefits of hormone replacement therapy without the health risks?

Study examines timing of weight gain in children
Recent studies suggest kids tend to gain the most weight in summer, but schools are chastised for providing unhealthy food and beverages, along with decreasing opportunities for physical activity.

New study shows why people gain weight as they get older
Many people struggle to keep their weight in check as they get older.

Being teased about weight linked to more weight gain among children, NIH study suggests
Youth who said they were teased or ridiculed about their weight increased their body mass by 33 percent more each year, compared to a similar group who had not been teased, according to researchers at the National Institutes of Health.

Daily self-weighing can prevent holiday weight gain
Researchers at the University of Georgia have shown that a simple intervention -- daily self-weighing -- can help people avoid holiday weight gain.

Association between weight before pregnancy, weight gain during pregnancy and adverse outcomes for mother, infant
An analysis that combined the results of 25 studies including nearly 197,000 women suggests prepregnancy body mass index (BMI) of the mother was more strongly associated with risk of adverse maternal and infant outcomes than the amount of gestational weight gain.

Comfort food leads to more weight gain during stress
Australian researchers have discovered a new molecular pathway in the brain that triggers more weight gain in times of stress.

Women gain weight when job demands are high
Heavy pressures at work seem to predispose women to weight gain, irrespective of whether they have received an academic education.

Read More: Weight Gain News and Weight Gain Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.