When the oral contraceptive Yasmin hit the United States market thanks to FDA approval in 2001, it was a smashing success. It came flying out of the gate because of pre-market press that touted this contraceptive as the pill that would clear up your acne, lighten any symptoms of PMS, limit bloating, and women taking it would even lose weight—something they couldn't say about other brands of oral contraceptives.
Yasmin (generic name: drospirenone and ethinyl estradiol) works like other birth control pills by preventing ovulation and by changing the cervical lining to make it much more difficult for sperm to reach an egg. It is prescribed both as a contraceptive (in a 28-day pill pack) and to treat moderate acne in girls aged 14 and over who have started their periods and want to use birth control.
Yasmin uses a different form of progestogen than most pills, called drosperinone. It is said to more successfully mimic the body's own hormones, as well as acts like a diuretic—thus the weight loss.
Yasmin and Weight Loss
The weight loss claims were a bit overblown. Some studies found no evidence of weight loss at all, while a couple of others found women taking Yasmin lost between 1-3 pounds over the course of a year, compared to other forms, where women were gaining on average 1 pound or so, again over the course of one year.
These minor gains in weight loss proved temporary, as in many cases after one year—conveniently, right after the study periods cut off—women were gaining back the weight.
Dr. Marie Foegh, vice president of clinical development at Berlex told ABC News:
Yasmin is an oral contraceptive and should not be viewed as a weight loss pill. We would not want any woman to think of it as that. There is a proactive effort going on from our sales force to encourage physicians to educate patients on this.
A cynical or realistic person might harbor strong doubts that a company would do anything to discourage the driving force behind the sales of their product, in particular a pharmaceutical company, but for the time being we'll take her at her word.
Yasmin has also been under investigation after several women became sick from taking the drug.
The bottom line is that there are many different forms of contraceptives available for women and Yasmin is just one of them. It will not likely help a woman lose weight, but it might cause her problems with the loss of potassium. In sum, before beginning a new form of birth control, a woman should discuss it with her health care provider as well as her pharmacist, and find which one works best for her, regardless of the many unfounded claims in the press.