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March 5, 2012

Hormone Replacement Therapy and Weight Gain

What is the Correlation Between Hormone Replacement Therapy and Weight Gain?

hormone replacement therapy and weight gain
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Menopausal women seek medical advice for the string of symptoms that they go through, and usually, this includes weight gain. Before, health practitioners simply prescribe hormone replacement therapy to address their concerns, but one of the details that many women would want to know is if hormone replacement therapy and weight gain are correlated, and how they relate.

The answer to this question can be “yes” or “no” depending on one woman to another, especially since different studies show conflicting results. But first, let us take a look at the odds by setting some things straight.

Age and Weight Gain

While we are not sure yet about the relationship between hormone replacement therapy and weight gain, it is safe to say that the relationship between aging and weight gain is directly proportional, that is, as a person ages, he or she will gain weight. For women, the shift in hormone levels during her menopausal years will typically raise how much weight she gains and how the fat in her body is distributed. In general, post menopausal women gain weight and set a central fat distribution like that in men, while pre-menopausal women develop the peripheral type of fat distribution. This difference may be because the post menopausal women produce even lesser estrogen.

Hormone Replacement Therapy and Its Possible Role in Weight Gain

Estrogen or a combination of estrogen and progesterone often constitutes HRT. Let us examine the impact of these two hormones on weight. In theory, progesterone is acknowledged to contribute to fat storage and perhaps increase appetite, while estrogen is known to cause water retention. With these suppositions, it can be concluded that the intake of both progesterone and estrogen can cause weight gain. However, this has not yet been proven in many studies. Let is take a look at one of these studies probing into the relationship between hormone replacement therapy and weight gain.

A Study Looks into the Link Between Hormone Replacement Therapy and Weight Gain

A Japanese study looks into the impact of hormone replacement therapy on weight, abdominal fat distribution, and lipid levels in 61 Japanese postmenopausal women. Thirty-five of these women were given a combination HRT (conjugate estrogen and medroxyprogesterone acetate), or non bio-identical hormone therapy daily for 12 months, while the remaining ladies did not receive any HRT. At the start of the study, sex hormones, weight, abdominal fat distribution, and lipid profiles were measured. These measurements were also taken at the end of the study.

Results showed that there was no significant change in weight in both groups. The visceral abdominal fat of women without HRT increased, while that of the HRT group did not. The HRT group also experienced a decline in total and bad cholesterol, and an increase in good cholesterol and triglyceride. No changes were observed in the control group.

To determine the effects of HRT on abdominal fat distribution, the researchers grouped the women according to their type of abdominal fat distribution: central and peripheral. A decrease in visceral fat was observed in women with central distribution under the HRT group. Those with peripheral distribution who also took HRT did not experience any change in abdominal fat distribution.

The researchers concluded that HRT may play a role in improving the distribution of abdominal fat and fasting lipid levels, save for triglycerides, but it did not show any effect on weight gain.

In our experience hormone replacement with bio-identical hormones coupled with exercise and a low glycemic diet does, however, lead to weight loss in women.

See related articles.

“How Declining Sex Hormone Levels to Weight Gain”

“What are the Benefits of Hormone Replacement Therapy”

“What is Hormone Replacement Therapy and What it Does”

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Dr. Joe Jacko


Dr. Joe is board certified in internal medicine and sports medicine with additional training in hormone replacement therapy and regenerative medicine. He has trained or practiced at leading institutions including the Hughston Clinic, Cooper Clinic, Steadman-Hawkins Clinic of the Carolinas, and Cenegenics. He currently practices in Columbus, Ohio. Read more about Dr. Joe Jacko

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