Research has found that there's no difference in weight gain between women taking HRT and those not taking it. HRT can improve the appearance of the skin, contributing to a younger look.
Research has found that there's no difference in weight gain between women taking HRT and those not taking it. HRT can improve the appearance of the skin, contributing to a younger look.

Menopause is an inevitable stage of life for women. During your reproductive years, your ovaries produce two hormones, estrogen and progesterone, to run your menstrual cycle. Menopause happens when your body reduces the production of these hormones.

Menopause is associated with night sweats, hot flashes, poor sleep, mood changes, vaginal dryness, bone thinning (osteoporosis), and reduced sex drive. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) relieves the symptoms of menopause. Can hormone replacement therapy also help with weight loss and make you younger-looking?

What is hormone replacement therapy?

HRT restores the hormone levels in your blood by supplying them externally. This therapy consists of estrogen, either alone or in combination with progesterone. These hormones are available as pills, skin patches, sprays, gels, and vaginal products.

If you've had a hysterectomy (surgery to remove your uterus) for any reason, your doctor will prescribe you estrogen only. However, if your uterus is intact, your doctor will prescribe HRT as a combination of estrogen and progesterone (also called progestin).

Does hormone replacement therapy help with weight loss?

Many women refuse hormone replacement therapy because they believe it promotes weight gain. But research has found that there's no difference in weight gain between women taking HRT and those not taking it.

The tendency to accumulate fat is reduced by hormone replacement therapy. Women on HRT have less fat in their bodies and gain less weight than women not taking this treatment. Though HRT doesn't help you look slimmer, it reduces the weight gain that happens at menopause.

Hormone replacement therapy by itself does not aid in weight loss. A balanced and controlled diet and regular weight-bearing exercise will help you lose weight and keep your bones strong.

Does hormone replacement therapy make you look younger?

Aging affects the skin over time, resulting in thin and dry skin, wrinkles, and reduced skin elasticity and firmness. Menopause speeds up these changes. Estrogen therapy can delay changes in skin aging, resulting in a younger look.

HRT improves skin elasticity and thickness, as well as collagen and water content. These changes improve the appearance of the skin, contributing to its younger look.

What about wrinkles? Wrinkling happens because of the reduced elasticity of the skin with age. The reduced estrogen levels at menopause increase the age-related changes in skin elasticity, speeding up wrinkle formation. Hormone replacement therapy reduces the appearance and depth of wrinkles.

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Benefits of hormone replacement therapy

Menopause is not a disease, but it can make you uncomfortable for months or years. Hormone replacement therapy can help you until the symptoms pass. Taking HRT reduces the hot flashes, mood swings, sleep disorders, and other symptoms.

Hormone replacement therapy prevents the mineral (calcium) loss seen in the bones after menopause. This keeps the bones strong and reduces fractures.

Should you take hormone replacement therapy?

HRT does help give you a youthful look and prevents the weight gain associated with menopause, but it's not completely safe. Like all potent medical treatments, it has some dangers:

Breast cancer

Hormone exposure is known to be a risk factor for the development of breast cancer. The risk is small with estrogen-only HRT but higher with combination HRT.

Blood clots

HRT is associated with the formation of blood clots in the veins. These clots stop blood flow from the affected part. Worse, the clots can be dislodged from the veins and reach the heart. From there, they can enter and block the arteries going to the lungs (known as pulmonary embolism).

Stroke

Hormone replacement therapy can increase your risk of stroke. The risk is low if you're under 60. Strokes can lead to paralysis or death.

Other dangers

Hormone replacement therapy increases your risk of gallbladder disease and dementia (reduced ability to remember, think, and perform daily tasks).

HRT has definite benefits for the skin, making you look younger. But it also has several side effects and risks, some of them life-threatening. Considering these risks, HRT is not recommended for its cosmetic benefits. Your doctor will prescribe it only if you have troublesome menopause symptoms.

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Medically Reviewed on 1/11/2022
References
Climacteric: "Estrogens and the skin."

Clinical Interventions in Aging: "Effect of estrogens on skin aging and the potential role of SERMs."

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews: "Oestrogen and progestogen hormone replacement therapy for peri-menopausal and post-menopausal women: weight and body fat distribution."

Journal of the American Medical Association: "Hormone Therapy for the Primary Prevention of Chronic Conditions in Postmenopausal Women: US Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation Statement."

Journal of Bone and Mineral Research: "Hormone replacement therapy dissociates fat mass and bone mass, and tends to reduce weight gain in early postmenopausal women: a randomized controlled 5-year clinical trial of the Danish Osteoporosis Prevention Study."

National Health Service: "Alternatives: Hormone replacement therapy (HRT)," "Benefits and risks: Hormone replacement therapy (HRT)," "Overview: Hormone replacement therapy (HRT)."

PLOS Medicine: "Menopausal hormone therapy and women’s health: An umbrella review."