Will hormone Replacement Therapy make me gain weight? I asked my doctor the first question when he prescribed hormone replacement therapy to manage my menopausal symptoms. However, it’s not only me anxiously seeking an answer. It’s the majority out there starting their HRT for various hormonal issues.
Your body is the play zone of different hormones in the body. They fulfill various vital functions in your body- influencing metabolism, growth, mood, sex drive, weight, etc. But, with time or due to several medical conditions, your body encounters a hormonal imbalance that HRT can resolve. However, can HRT cause weight gain? To simply put- No. How? Let’s find out. Join me to explore more about hormone replacement therapy and change in weight.
What Is Hormone Replacement Therapy?
Hormone replacement therapy is the medication that replaces the female hormones, especially estrogen, that your body stops producing. Doctors usually suggest hormone replacement therapy to treat the common symptoms of menopause that women generally encounter between the age of 45 and 55. Menopause is a crucial phase in a woman’s life that affects your ovaries’ hormone production. Due to this imbalance of hormones, you face several symptoms affecting your health and overall well-being that include-
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Low sex drive
- Vaginal dryness
- Mood swings
- And many more
Hormone replacement therapy prescribes medication that replaces the unproduced hormones in your body, boosting the hormonal level lost during menopause. There are different types of HRT available. Depending on your health condition, history, and necessity, your healthcare provider will select the medication best for you. That’s why HRT is always individualized and customized with your need in mind.
Usually, you start with a low dose while the doctor monitors your absorption and side effects. Doctors typically recommend the continuation of your medication for three months to see the progress. If the method or medicine doesn’t suit you, he may change the dose or the type of HRT you are getting currently.
Hormone Replacement Therapy and Change in Weight
Will hormone replacement therapy make you overweight? However a common question it is, the simple answer is no. Not as a direct side effect. The human body is the workstation of various hormones that regulate and influence vital functions of your body. However, with age, both males and females notice several changes in body composition.
Weight gain is one such change that may occur due to hormonal imbalance. In females, decreasing estrogen during menopause can cause weight gain as estrogen is directly connected to metabolism and weight management. In males, it’s the decreasing testosterone that leads to weight gain.
In addition, during peri-menopause and onwards, your progesterone production also decreases, which supports the thyroid glands to regulate your body temperature and metabolism. Therefore, low progesterone naturally leads to a slower metabolic rate, causing weight gain.
Hormone replacement therapy provides the solution to your hormonal imbalance, restoring the healthy level of estrogen and progesterone. However, will you gain weight in HRT? Medicine to your misery – no.
Numerous researches suggest that women taking HRT during menopause and perimenopause reported experiencing a reduction of body weight, nearly 3 pounds less of fat mass than women not taking HRT. Another study suggested that estrogen hormone therapy increases metabolic rate, slowing down weight gain.
In addition, combined hormone replacement therapy has proven to prevent weight gain. Moreover, combined hormone therapy increases lipid oxidation in three months of treatment, promoting your weight loss project.
However, with some patients, hormone replacement therapy may increase weight at the beginning of treatment. The body begins to adjust with a new medication, and water retention and bloating may appear as side effects making your look plump.
However, as the hormone levels balance out, your body begins to function more efficiently. Soon you will experience improvement in overall health with increased energy. You will be physically active, which directly enhances weight loss efforts.
Still, there’s a catch. If you only rely on hormone replacement therapy without checking your diet, physical activity, and lifestyle, you are prone to face excess body weight. A balanced diet, regular physical exercise, and a healthy lifestyle manage your weight gain with HRT. Even after stopping your medication, they will keep you fit and healthy.
Types of Hormone Replacement Therapy and Weight Gain
There are several types of HRT that doctors usually prescribe depending on your condition, medical history, lifestyle, and preferences.
Only Estrogen Therapy
Weight gain during menopause is typical, and hormonal change plays a significant role in it. However, does estrogen cause weight gain?
Many women report that decreasing estrogen levels influence their weight, especially during menopause. Estradiol, one form of estrogen, usually regulates your metabolism and body weight, declines drastically during menopause. As a result, you gain weight. However, menopause is not the inky reason, lowering your estrogen levels. There are other potential cause too that include-
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Ovary removal
- Excessive exercise
Estrogen-only hormone replacement therapy includes a synthetic form of estrogen that restores the optimum balance of estrogen in your body. However, estrogen-only therapy is not suitable for all as it may increase the risk of endometrial cancer if you still have a uterus. Women who have had their ovaries and uterus removed usually get only-estrogen therapy. Usually, doctors suggest estrogen as pills, patches, gel, cream, or vaginal rings that you have to take every day.
Only Progestin Therapy
Does progesterone make you gain weight? Progesterone is the junior player in the hormone balance and weight management department. However, low progesterone with a high estrogen level may cause weight gain.
Estrogen and progesterone must always be in balance in your body. A healthy progesterone level assists the thyroid hormones, regulating your metabolism. Estrogens influence your metabolism, too; however, they are responsible for depositing more fat onto various parts of your body.
Now, if you have a low progesterone level, you will face estrogen dominance or high estrogen. Due to low progesterone and high estrogen level, your metabolism will slow down, causing less burning of food into energy and retaining fat cells than usual—the result: weight gain.
Several high estrogen symptoms indicate a lower progesterone level in your body- irregular or heavy periods, weight gain, fatigue, fibroids in females, breast tissue growth, difficulty getting or maintaining an erection, and infertility in males.
Only progestin hormone replacement therapy includes a synthetic form of progesterone that restores the balance between progesterone and estrogen. Doctors also suggest progestins to treat amenorrhea, premenstrual tension, and abnormal uterine bleeding.
Combinaion of Estrogen and Progesterone Therapy
Combined therapy is the combination of estrogen and progesterone or the synthetic form of progesterone, progestin. It’s a good HRT option for people who wants to restore their hormonal balance all at once.
Doctors usually prescribe the combination hormone replacement therapy if you still have your uterus. The reason being only estrogen without progesterone increase your risk of endometrium cancer or uterine cancer.
In combination therapy, progesterone lowers the risk of uterine cancer by making the endometrium thin which stops shedding cells during menopause. Only estrogen usually causes cell overgrowth in your uterus, directing cancer.
Other Benefits of Hormone Replacement Therapy
With weight management, hormone replacement therapy also offers numerous benefits that include-
- Manages various menopausal symptoms- hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, etc
- Lessen vaginal dryness
- Reduces the risk of osteoporosis
- Lowers the risk of osteopenia
- Reduces the risk of diabetes
- Lowers the risk of colon cancer
- Improves joint pains
- Lowers tooth loss
- Enhances the sense of overall well being
Side Effects of Hormone Replacement Therapy
No medication is devoid of side effects, as is HRT. the common side effects you may face are-
- Breast tenderness
- Mood swings
- Fluid retention
- Skin discoloration and irritation under patches
Hormone replacement therapy is always an appropriate and agreeable answer to the issues with hormonal imbalance. However, hormone replacement therapy and change in weight, especially weight, are common concerns. The reassuring answer is HRT doesn’t directly cause weight gain. More precisely, if your prescription provides proper HRT, it will not lead to weight gain. However, you have to promote a healthy diet and an active lifestyle to get the best result.
Hormone Replacement Therapy, LA, is the best hormonal solution near you, ready to assist you with expert doctors and staff. Dr. David Nazarian is an award-winning HRT specialist, providing perfect medication to get rid of the unwanted side effects of your hormonal imbalance issues. In his hand, you can gladly say goodbye to your weight gain.