There is a variety of reasons to receive bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT). There are those who seek BHRT for uncomfortable menopause symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats. Others look for relief from the effects of hormonal imbalance – sluggishness, fatigue, and lack of motivation.
Very often the symptoms of hormonal deficiency and imbalance go hand in hand with another major issue: body weight. Therefore, it is only natural to wonder:
Will BHRT make me gain weight? Or will it do the opposite, and once my hormones are balanced, my weight will go down?
So, what happens in reality? Do you gain or lose weight while on BHRT? The short answer is, both can be true. Let’s look at the weight gain first.
Will Bioidentical Hormones Make Me Gain Weight?
Many people feel stuck in their efforts to lose weight, and many start wondering: could it be BHRT that is making weight loss more difficult? Could bioidentical hormone therapy even make me gain weight?
The truth is, hormone replacement therapy may result in initial weight gain, due to the effect hormones have on your metabolism.
When your body is being supplemented with bioidentical hormones, it can result in fluctuations in hormone levels—and weight—which is why it is important that you partner with your doctor who will closely monitor your hormone levels.
The weight gain is most likely to happen initially, as you test out which medication your body responds best to, as well as how much (or how little) supplementation your body needs. This process of trial and error will make you either lose or gain a couple of pounds.
The good news is, these weight fluctuations are only temporary and will eventually normalize with the help of your doctor, who will keep track of your weight and hormone levels as well as prescribe the appropriate type and dose of medications.
So, how can you ensure that your weight gain stays on healthy levels? Aside from proper maintenance, the right hormone health practitioner can point you in the right direction by coming up with a comprehensive and customized treatment plan that responds to your needs.
Outside of the bioidentical hormones and medications you are taking, weight gain could also be influenced by other factors such as diet, exercise (or lack thereof), and other medications and supplements. That’s why it’s important to consult a hormone health specialist before taking any medications.
Weight Loss: An Unexpected Side Effect of Bioidentical Hormone Therapy?
A popular misconception surrounding bioidentical hormone replacement therapy is that it promotes weight loss. Again, the primary purpose of BHRT is to alleviate the effects of hormonal changes on the body during menopause, andropause, as well as address hormone disorders. The changes in the levels of estrogen, testosterone, and other hormones may affect your appetite or metabolism, but it isn’t a guarantee that you will lose weight while on treatment.
So why do so many associate bioidentical hormone replacement therapy with weight loss, then? Most of it has to do with the fact that hormonal imbalances—which treatment with bioidentical hormones is designed to correct—usually cause weight-related problems. In women who have polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, for instance, a common symptom is usually weight gain that won’t go away even with diet and exercise. Another common culprit of weight gain is hypothyroidism.
When your body’s hormones are back to healthy levels with the help of supplementation, your endocrine system will be more effective at producing hormones. This usually brings about improved metabolism and, in effect, weight loss.
That being said, plenty of other factors may affect a person’s weight. In most cases, it’s best to listen to your doctor’s advice if you want to lose weight: follow a healthy lifestyle and couple it with the right diet and exercise.
Can Testosterone Therapy Help You Lose Weight?
When it comes to finding out whether estrogen or progesterone replacement therapy (or a combination of both) has a role in effecting weight loss in women, studies are still underway. The consensus is currently mixed, with some researchers concluding that there is little or no effect, and others purporting that in select segments of the female populace, these hormones do in fact bring about weight loss.
As for men, there seems to be a clearer connection between hormone replacement therapy and weight loss. In particular, testosterone has proven to be beneficial to obese males; studies show that obese men who underwent testosterone replacement therapy were successful at losing weight and keeping it off long-term, significantly reduced their waist circumference, and lowered their body mass index.
Of course, a holistic treatment that specifically targets weight loss is still your best option. Still, it’s hard to discount the role testosterone therapy may play in helping you achieve your weight loss goals.
Integrating BHRT Into Your Weight Loss Plan
Weight gain is a natural and inevitable part of growing old, as hormone production dwindles and our metabolism slows down. Without this understanding, it can be hard to accept that weight loss isn’t as easy to achieve as it was perhaps 10 or 20 years ago.
Incorporating bioidentical hormone replacement therapy into a weight loss regimen may just hold the key to getting the results you want. For best results, make sure you work with a trusted hormone health practitioner to know the best type of treatment for you. Click here to schedule a free phone consultation with Dr. Tatiana Fleischman, our BHRT specialist.