Can you use Contraception safely when Overweight?
Updated December 2022
Dr Sylvia Kama-Kieghe summarises the latest advi
The Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Health, FSRH qualifies experts on reproductive healthcare in the UK and has very useful advice on Contraception for overweight and obese women.
Being overweight contributes to an in
What’s On This Page
What You Should Know About Your BMI
When one factors in some of the clinical risks that contraceptive methods by themselves could cause, there is even more reason to study specific methods closely when one is
I thought it would be useful to review the recent guidance and remind ourselves about some key points to help us stay safe and use contraception effectively.
The BMI (Body Mass Index) is used to classify the degree of excess weight an individual has.
The BMI calculation divides an adult’s weight (in kilograms) by their height (in metres squared).
For example, A BMI of 25 means 25kg/m2.
Using BMI, a healthy weight range is between 18.5 and 24.9.
These guidelines apply to people with BMI>25 (within the overweight range).
CHECK MY BMI – Tool checker
The key safe monitoring tools for using contraception include a Blood pressure monitor and a weight and height scale.
Should Know If Your BMI is H igh
- As an obese lady, you are more likely to develop the following conditions: venous and arterial thromboembolism (VTE/ATE), hypertension, Type 2 Diabetes and some cancers (endometrial, breast).
- You should let your doctor know whether you smoke, have had recent surgery or are planning to have surgery soon.
- Other medications you take and should mention are – OTC (over-the-counter), weight loss aids/ slimming teas etc.
High BMI and Contraceptive Methods
IUC (Also known as intrauterine contraception)
This is safe to use, and there should be no problem with fitting this if you are overweight.
…..however, your doctor may require larger-sized equipment – A blood pressure cuff, examining couch and vaginal speculum.
The subdermal implant. Ladies with high BMI should be able to use this safely and effectively – its proper placement is under the skin, so insertion and removal should constitute no problem when done properly.
Depot Injection (shot)
The depot is the only form of contraception with a clinically proven association with causing weight gain.
…. this association is reportedly higher in women under the age of 18 years with BMA>30kg/m2.
Tip – If you find that you have gained more than 5% of weight in 6
While it is an effective method, other safety concerns can be associated with the Depot injection.
Presently, there is no known association between the Depot and Venous Thrombo-embolism (VTE)
But, it is thought that if you are overweight and also smoke, have high blood pressure and/or Diabetes, then there is a possible risk of developing a DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis).
In this case, an alternative method should be up for consideration.
POP (Progesterone-only Pill)
This is safe and effective for a woman with a BMI>25;
If you are overweight and taking a POP, we do not recommend doubling the dose of the contraceptive POP.
Combined Oral Contraceptive(COC)
The Combined Oral Contraceptive pills (and the vaginal ring) “can” be used by a woman with BMI> 25 but with caution.
Because ovarian activity is higher in overweight/obese ladies, it is possible that during the last week (pill-free or hormone-free period), there is a risk of contraceptive failure and falling pregnant. It may be preferable to use the pill or ring without the usual 1
Tip – The contraceptive patch is a method that may be less effective in a woman weighing > 90kg!
Regarding safety with the COC, for a lady whose BMI is over 35, it is thought that the risk of having a thrombotic event such as a DVT/ CVA (cerebrovascular accident or Stroke) is higher than the benefits of using the COC to prevent pregnancy.
On the other hand, if your BMI is between 30 and 34, the risks are actually less, and you may use the method with a reasonable degree of safety.
Learn more about Oral Contraception and Weight Gain.
It is important to watch and monitor
Emergency Contraception (EC)
EC – Pills containing Levonorgestrel (examples include – Post pill/ Postinor/ Levonelle) are NOT effective for women >70kg or BMI >26kg/m2.
Ulipristal – NOT effective for women >85kg or BMI >30kg/m2 Copper IUD – most effective form of EC; safe for women of all body weights or BMI.
All types of surgery carry basic complications, which can increase when overweight. An overweight lady with a laparoscopy (or mini-laparotomy) to block (cut or seal) the tubes can be at a higher risk of complications. They may also experience ‘technical failure’ of the procedure – excess fatty tissue may contribute to this.
I hope you can carefully decide which contraceptive type soothes your BMI. Please leave a comment if you want more information.
Edited by AskAwayHealth Team
All AskAwayHealth articles are written by practising Medical Practitioners on various healthcare conditions to provide evidence-based guidance and to help promote quality healthcare. The advice in our material is not meant to replace a qualified healthcare practitioner’s management of your specific condition.
To discuss your condition, please get in touch with a health practitioner or reach us directly