Fear of weight gain is one of the main factors that can lead to poor compliance with hormone replacement therapy (HRT). However, the results of many scientific studies have shown that HRT does not actually increase weight gain. What we do know is that HRT can reverse menopausal changes, meaning that weight is maintained around the hips and thighs again. Age-related weight gain is universal, occurs in both sexes and is mainly attributed to a decrease in lean body mass and the level of physical activity (which may be subtle).
This suggests that you might gain weight as a result of menopause, but that undergoing hormone therapy probably won't cause additional weight gain. If you've experienced menopause so far without gaining weight, but you started to gain weight as soon as you started HRT, you might even be thinking about stopping treatment completely. Contrary to what is supposed, most women do not experience weight changes as a result of undergoing HRT. While menopause and aging are undoubtedly associated with weight gain, you might be wondering if the new numbers on the scale are the result of HRT.
Another menopausal symptom that usually improves with hormone therapy is sleep, and science says that lack of sleep can cause weight gain through the stress hormone, cortisol. There are no studies or evidence to support the fact that HRT causes direct weight loss, but for many women, HRT makes them feel much better about themselves. In one study, for example, women who had recently gone through menopause and were obese lost between 1.9 and 2.3 kilograms (approximately 4 to 5 pounds) when taking HRT, while no change in weight was seen in participants who did not undergo HRT. Therefore, when women ask about the impact of MHT on their weight maintenance and loss goals, MHT cannot be recommended as a therapy to help them lose weight.
These results do not provide clear answers about the impact of HRT on each individual woman, but they do show that HRT is unlikely to be the cause of unexplained weight gain in most women. In addition, holding the weight around the hips rather than the midsection tends to be better for most women, which is an additional positive aspect of HRT, since it makes clothes feel more comfortable and regains a physique that is often associated with youth and femininity. Ultimately, if you stop hormone therapy, also talk to your doctor about the risk of increasing belly fat and what you can do in terms of diet and exercise to prevent this weight gain, Pinkerton says. This is common; many women assume that HRT and weight gain go hand in hand and that it's almost inevitable to lose a few extra pounds during treatment. While it's not always possible to isolate the cause of weight gain from confounding factors such as aging or lifestyle-related factors, it doesn't have to be mysterious or inevitable when you're in menopause or undergoing hormone replacement therapy.
With proper diet and exercise habits, it's possible to maintain your desired bodyweight while still receiving all the benefits of hormone replacement therapy.