Birth control pills are among the most popular forms of contraceptive, used by approximately 100 million women around the world. You can trust your birth control pills to prevent pregnancy, ease your periods, and keep your skin clear, but have you ever wondered how they impact your progress at the gym? We’ll take a closer look at some of the unexpected side effects of birth control pills.

Higher Body Fat Levels

Contraceptive pills tend to increase body fat levels slightly because they essentially trick your body into thinking you’re pregnant, at least at first. It’s only natural your body starts storing extra nutrients, or fat, in readiness for the baby it expects you’ll grow. Combination pills such as Tri-Previfem and Yaz might initially increase fat around the hips and butt. Mini pills such as Camilla and Errin typically increase body fat throughout the body.

Experts say fat increases are usually temporary. You should lose the extra pounds a few months after starting the pill, especially if you’re working out regularly. However, you might find the way your body stores fat changes while you’re on the pill. While you might not weigh more months after taking the pill, you might have a curvier appearance, especially if you take a combination pill.

Weight Fluctuations

Increased body fat levels aren’t the only weighty concern for women on the pill. This form of birth control can also promote fluid retention and cause bloating, which can both make you seem heavier.

Strangely enough, weight loss is also common on the birth control pill. Anecdotal evidence suggests women taking Yasmin often lose weight. However, experts believe this is because the pill has a mild diureticlike effect. While this pill might reduce water weight, it takes a workout to reduce body fat.

Energy Reduction

Women taking combination pills often feel more fatigued than women on mini pills and other forms of birth control. That’s because the body uses vitamin B6 to metabolize the pill’s estrogen. This leaves less vitamin B6 in the body for converting food into energy, leaving you feeling sluggish. Thankfully, eating foods rich in vitamin B6, including red peppers and bananas, or taking a vitamin supplement can help solve the problem.

If you’re feeling fatigued, consider using a telemedicine service to manage your birth control. Virtual healthcare providers such as Nurx allow you to you order your birth control online, so you don’t have to schedule an in-person doctor’s appointment or spend time picking up your medication from a pharmacy. The time you’ll save can also help you fit that extra gym session into your day.

Increased Bone Health

Intense exercise can reduce estrogen levels and stop periods altogether. Women who experience this condition, called amenorrhea, are more likely to develop osteoporosis. Combination pills, which contain estrogen, can reverse this condition and improve bone health. This is great news for women that love exercises that put brittle bones at risk, such as running on treadmills or participating in high-energy aerobics classes.

Birth control pills have several side effects that can impact exercise enthusiasts. Understanding how they affect your body can help you formulate a plan to achieve your fitness goals and improve your health. Birth control pills also vary according to type and brand, so feel free to experiment if you’re concerned your pill is holding you back at the gym.