You’re cranky, exhausted, and just not feeling like yourself lately: in short, you can definitely tell that you’re dealing with the effects of menopause.
In addition to all the emotional consequences, you’ve also noticed an especially unpleasant one: you’ve gained weight.
Your doctor has recommended that you try hormone replacement therapy (HRT.) But you’re not sure what the link is between HRT and weight gain.
Keep reading to separate the fact from the fiction. Instead, learn how the natural hormones in your body can cause you to gain what — and what HRT can help you to do about it.
What Is Hormone Replacement Therapy?
Once you’ve entered menopause, we know that getting relief for the symptoms you’re experiencing is always on your mind.
Menopause comes with a whole host of consequences that can cause discomfort, mental distress, and even compromise your relationship with your family.
80% of menopausal women say that they experience hot flashes, while many deal with severe night sweats that make it tough to sleep.
Women in menopause may also find they have a lower sex drive, experience dramatic mood swings, and feel tired all of the time. Some women get migraines, feel dizzy, and even experience joint and muscle pain.
In short, it’s not a pleasant time.
Hormone Replacement Therapy, or HRT for short, is designed to help you to get some much-needed relief from these symptoms and side effects.
In general, you’ll choose between estrogen-only (ET) hormone therapy and Estrogen and Progesterone (EPT) hormone therapy. If you have had a hysterectomy, you’ll have ET.
In general, you’ll get HRT though tablets, patches, or even injections in some cases. You can also receive the HRT you need through creams and rings.
You should expect your doctor to start off by giving you the lowest dosage possible, and then increasing it on an as-needed basis.
Of course, we understand that there’s a lot of confusion out there regarding HRT and weight gain.
The good news?
It’s really more myth than fact.
Let’s dispel some of the rumors about HRT and weight gain now.
HRT And Weight Gain: The Truth
So, now you understand the benefits and general process of HRT.
Now, it’s time to address the truth about HRT and weight gain.
First of all, let’s take a quick look at how menopause changes your body’s metabolism. While many people think that HRT leads to weight gain, the real culprit is usually menopause itself.
Essentially, when menopause first hits, it wrecks havoc on your entire hormone system. The hormones that your body needs — like estrogen, progesterone, and yes, even testosterone — aren’t being made at the same pace that they used to be.
As production slows, the levels of all these hormones within your body go all over the charts. (This is what’s responsible for mood swings, bloating, and some of the other symptoms of menopause.)
Over time, however, your overall hormone production levels will stop altogether.
One of the biggest causes of weight gain is the loss of production of the hormone Thyroxine. This is a hormone that’s produced in your thyroid, which is one of the main places in your body that controls your metabolism.
When your body stops making enough Thyroxine?
You start gaining weight, feeling hungrier, and even feeling too tired to exercise.
So, it’s not HRT and weight gain at all.
Instead, it’s the sudden loss of regular hormone production in your body that’s the reason for your sudden jump up in pants size.
Other Hormones Impacted By Menopause
So, you’ve learned about how a lowered production of Thyroxine can cause you to gain weight over the course of the different phases of menopause.
Now, let’s look at how other hormones, not HRT and weight gain, also cause your metabolism to slow down once your period stops.
One of the main types of estrogen that contribute to weight gain during menopause is called estrone. Once your body stops making the estrogen that you need, your body notices what’s going on and tries to recalibrate these estrogen levels on its own.
It does this by kicking its production of estrone, which is another type of estrogen, into overdrive.
The bad news?
Estrone is also in the majority of the fat cells within your body. So, you can connect the dots about what an increased production level of estrone will do to your waistline. Plus, even though high amounts of estrone are actually great for your body, you can’t produce enough estrone to get those positive effects.
Instead, all you’ll see is the weight gain.
This is because your body fat — especially in the stomach — will increase because that’s the only thing your body can think to do to create more estrone.
Other Quick Myths About HRT And Weight Gain
Before we move onto a discussion of how HRT can actually help you to manage your weight during menopause?
Let’s rule out just a few more myths about HRT and weight gain.
First of all, understand that your body produces more fat cells during menopause not only because it’s trying to up your estrone levels.
It also retains more fat because it’s actually trying to work to better protect your bones.
Remember, because your body has stopped producing the hormones that you need to preserve safe levels of overall bone density, it has to find other ways to compensate.
Additionally, be aware that when it comes to HRT and weight gain, that “fat” that you think you see likely isn’t even fat at all.
Instead, it’s likely water retention. This is due to the dramatic increase in your body’s overall sodium levels. As you’ve probably guessed, it’s also a side effect of the crazy fluctuation in hormone levels throughout the body.
The solution for these issues?
First of all, drink as much water as you possibly can. Also, make sure that you’re making green tea and foods with a high satiety rating, like oatmeal, a part of your diet.
Now, let’s end the myth of HRT and weight gain once and for all by talking about how HRT can actually help you to better manage your weight throughout menopause.
HRT Can Help You To Manage Your Weight
So, now you know the truth about HRT and weight gain — in that there’s no truth to it at all.
But what can you do to manage the side effects of menopause and prevent the hormone levels in your body from causing your weight to fluctuate?
In reality, the opposite of what you’ve been incorrectly taught is true. Women actually use HRT in order to help them to maintain their weight — or even to lose a few extra pounds they’ve put on.
HRT works to restore the natural level of hormonal balance that were present in your body before menopause hit — the levels that you need to keep a healthy weight and feel your best.
HRT actively increases the levels of estradiol, thyroid hormones like Thyroxine, and even testosterone in your body. It also does this safely, so that the balance is gently restored — unlike menopause, which happens too quickly for your body to become used to.
What Else HRT Does To Manage Your Weight
In addition to dispelling the myth about HRT and weight gain, let’s also talk about how else it can help you to feel better.
HRT will help you to sleep through the night.
When you’re less exhausted, you’ll also be less likely to reach for those sugary, high-calorie foods that make it easy to pack on the pounds.
You’ll also feel a lot less depressed and stressed out — two emotions that trigger the desire to overeat in many people. Your metabolism will be restored so that you can still enjoy the things you love without worrying about weight gain.
You’ll even have the energy you need to hit the gym!
HRT And Weight Gain: Now You Know The Truth
We hope that this post has helped to separate the myths from the facts when it comes to HRT and weight gain.
Remember, it’s actually the imbalance of natural hormones in your body that are responsible for a sudden weight gain. It’s not HRT therapy, which can actually help you to lose or simply maintain your weight throughout menopause.
We know that going through “the change” is an incredibly challenging — and often emotional — time.
We want to help you to better understand and navigate every step of the way.
Want to learn more about HRT? Interested in studying up on other health benefits of HRT? Looking to score tips on how to live a happier, healthier life?
Check out our website and blog to learn how to make the most out of your life.