Weight often seems to creep up as you age. At first, the extra pounds may seem to be the result of simple lifestyle changes. You may be exercising less, working more, and eating worse. And those may all indeed be involved in your physical changes. But unwanted weight gain may also be related—if not tied directly—to hormone deficiency.
For both women and men, there is increasing evidence that a deficiency in estrogen or testosterone may cause or contribute to weight gain and decreased muscle mass. One of the ways to combat this is hormone replacement therapy (HRT), including hormone pellet therapy. While it is not recommended to take hormone replacement treatment specifically for weight loss, balancing the level of hormones in your body can potentially help you support healthier physiological function and make weight loss easier when paired with a healthy, holistic weight loss plan. As such, understanding the connection between hormone pellet therapy and weight loss could set you on a path for a healthier future.
The Promise of Testosterone Replacement Therapy for Weight Loss
The connection between testosterone and weight is complex. Weight gain has been linked to low testosterone for years, but until recently, scientists weren’t sure in which direction the causation flowed. Now, while there is some evidence that significant weight gain can lower testosterone levels, it is becoming increasingly clear that low testosterone can lead to or exacerbate weight gain, including obesity. This understanding has spurred researchers to investigate the potential of testosterone therapy to facilitate weight loss in men with testosterone deficiency—with promising results.
In a 2014 metareview, Dr. Abdulmaged M. Traish, Professor of Urology at Boston University School of Medicine, notes:
Long-term testosterone therapy in men with testosterone deficiency produces significant and sustained weight loss, marked reduction in waist circumference and BMI and improvement in body composition. Further, testosterone therapy ameliorates components of the metabolic syndrome. The aforementioned improvements are attributed to improved mitochondrial function, increased energy utilization, increased motivation and vigor resulting in improved cardio-metabolic function and enhanced physical activity.
More recent research has found similar results, including a 2019 study published in the Journal of the Endocrine Society. In this study, a cohort of German and American researchers followed over 800 men with obesity and hypogonadism over a 10-year period to determine the impact of HRT on weight and body composition. Their findings were stark:
Over 10 years, the testosterone-treated men lost 20.3 percent of their baseline weight (50.5 lb; 22.9 kg); their waist circumference dropped by 12.5 cm (4.9 in). BMI decreased by 7.3 kg/m2, and the waist-to-height ratio decreased by 0.07. By contrast, the untreated men gained 3.9 percent of their baseline weight (3.2 kg; 7.1 lb), and their waist size increased by 4.6 cm (1.8 in). In this group, BMI increased by 0.9 kg/m2, and waist-to-height ratio increased by 0.03.
Additionally, “testosterone therapy was associated with a reduced risk of death, heart attack and stroke.”
It is important to note that these studies relate only to men with low testosterone, not to overweight or obese men with normal testosterone levels; HRT should only be used in patients who have a legitimate hormone deficiency. But if you suspect that your weight gain may be related to low testosterone, it is important to undergo hormone testing to identify any deficiencies. If your testosterone is found to be low, HRT may not only help you lose unwanted weight, but protect your overall health.
The Impact of HRT on Weight in Women
While research findings on weight gain and HRT in men are relatively clear, they are more complicated for women. The fluctuations and decline of estrogen that occur during perimenopause and menopause are indeed related to the weight gain that so often happens during this life stage. However, as Dr. Stephanie S. Faubion of the Women’s Health Clinic and General Internal Medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, NY says, “The current literature [suggests] that menopause, per se, after adjustment for aging, does not result in significant weight gain.” Although the evidence is not entirely conclusive and research is ongoing, weight gain during perimenopause and menopause may not be the direct result of hormonal changes—at least not in all cases.
However, hormonal changes can impact how body fat is distributed and increase abdominal obesity. Furthermore, the symptoms of perimenopause and menopause can lead to behavioral changes that contribute to weight gain. Dr. Alice Y. Chang, a consultant with Endocrinology, Diabetes, Metabolism, and Nutrition at the Mayo Clinic explains:
Perimenopausal women often underestimate the impact of vasomotor symptoms on so many aspects of their lives. For example, women with severe vasomotor symptoms, especially at night, might not realize how severe fatigue compromises their ability to remain active. Women are more prone to mood disorders in the perimenopausal period, and that can interfere with their motivation to make lifestyle changes often required to prevent weight gain.
Additionally, vasomotor symptoms like hot flashes can cause significant sleep disturbances, which are associate with weight gain.
Because HRT is known to alleviate many perimenopause and menopause symptoms, it may help support a woman’s weight management efforts and indirectly facilitate weight loss. Indeed, evidence of this has existed for decades, including a 2018 study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. The study found that in women age 50-80, menopause hormone therapy was associated with significantly lower body mass index (BMI) and fat mass index (FMI). This association persisted even when researchers controlled for other factors. What’s more, they disappeared once HRT was discontinued.
These findings do not suggest that HRT should be taken by women for the express purpose of weight loss. Rather, it suggests that hormone therapy may be one way to support greater physiological, emotional, and behavioral wellness during perimenopause and menopause, which may help women address or avoid unwanted weight gain.
Why Hormone Pellet Therapy and Weight Loss Go Together
Unwanted weight gain can be frustrating, embarrassing, and dispiriting. It can make you feel like a foreigner in your own body and keep you from enjoying life to its fullest. And if you can’t shed the pounds on your own, it’s time to seek guidance from a practitioner who understands the complexities of weight gain as we age—including the impact of hormones. They will conduct a thorough assessment to gain greater insight into your symptoms and help you create a personalized strategy for feeling your best.
If you wish to pursue hormone replacement therapy to address the symptoms of low testosterone, perimenopause, or menopause and find greater balance, hormone pellet therapy may be one of the best HRT options available. These tiny pellets are implanted just under your skin and provide a continuous dose of hormones over the course of several months, helping you avoid the ups and downs that can come with other HRT methods. This hormonal steadiness may allow you to find greater relief from your symptoms and help you make the healthy lifestyle changes you need to shed unwanted weight.
Sustainable loss is rarely easy. It takes work and dedication, especially as you age. But with the right supports, you can look and feel your best and protect your long-term health.
If you want to know more about hormone pellet therapy and weight loss, BodyLogicMD can help. The BodyLogicMD network is comprised of top medical professionals specializing in hormone health, HRT, and integrative medicine. BodyLogicMD-affiliated practitioners are dedicated to helping people address hormone imbalance through personalized treatment plans that enhance quality of life. Contact a local practitioner to schedule your first appointment, or take the BodyLogicMD Hormone Balance Quiz today.
Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. All content on this website is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent diseases.
Charlotte is a patient care coordinator specializing in bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. She is committed to helping patients who struggle with the symptoms of hormonal change and imbalance explore their treatment options and develop effective strategies to optimize wellness.