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Does HRT or lack of estrogen cause the weight gain? Does HRT or lack of estrogen cause the weight gain?

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Unread 06-26-2005, 09:26 AM
Does HRT or lack of estrogen cause the weight gain?

Before surgery I was lucky to find this website to get answers to my many questions and concerns. I peeked at the hormone jungle back then and hoped I wouldn't be back. Well here I am once again hoping I can get some help.

I am 3 months post op (TAH) and am trying to get this hrt thing figured out. I read the book Women, Weight & Hormones by Elizabeth Lee Vliet, MD. In it she explains how a womans body shape changes from a pear to an apple after menopause due to the lack of hormones. So if I'm taking hormones, what is causing my body shape to change and gain weight?

My first symptoms, about 2 weeks post op, were hot flashes and even worse, insomnia. I started out on Estrodial 1 mg. for about a month. Slowly watched the scale go up. I felt the weight all around my upper body, especially under my arms. When I put my arms to my side I actually could feel as though there was something between my upper arms and sides causing my arms to stick out. I still experienced insomnia 2-3 nights a week. The lack of sleep caused me to be tired and fatigued most of the time. Dr. had me increase it to 2 mg. for a few weeks. No change. Dr. then switched me to vivelle dot .075 mg. The insomnia is gone and thankfully that upper body weight has gone down a bit. Now I've started noticing my joints ache. I feel like I would expect to feel 20 yrs from now, or the day after a real hard workout. I wake up and my hands and feet are swelling as though I'm 8 months pregnant. Can't wear my rings anymore and even my watch is tight. Do you think there is any relationship between the swelling and the aching joints or are they two seperate issues? Does hrt cause you to gain weight? Retain fluid? After reading the book I thought going on hrt would help keep off the weight when in reality It's probably put on the 15 lbs. I feel like I'm in someone elses body. It is so frustrating.

Can anyone relate and have advice?
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Unread 06-26-2005, 10:48 AM

Boy, -I wish I had more answers for you, but, I don't think the HRT "causes" weight gain, or achy joints, I believe it's more of an imbalance of our hormones that bring those symptoms on.

Are you using progesterone cream also? You may need to balance your estrogen with a bit. I know many women find sleep issues go away when they use it, and I know its good for our bones and joints.

You are also pretty early post-op, and your body is still adjusting.

Ugh! It's hard to find balance. Have you checked your adrenals? That is another area that can suffer.

I hope you get some balance soon! I began HRT 7 mos. post op, but I kept my ovaries, and felt pretty good initially..

Hang in there, you will get some wonderful advise here...

Unread 07-02-2005, 06:56 PM
Does HRT or lack of estrogen cause the weight gain?

I also take Estradiol 2 mg. I had my hyst about 17 months ago. I have alos gained weight and no matter what I do;can't get rid of it. My legs feel like they have no circulation in them and hurt alot of the time. I am glad someone is else is having similar problems.
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Unread 07-02-2005, 08:29 PM
Does HRT or lack of estrogen cause the weight gain?

zim46, The swollen fingers sound like fluid retention and yes ERT can increase this tendency. I find that if I really watch the amount of salt in my diet I have less swelling. My appetite is under control.
Unread 08-08-2005, 07:09 PM
Does HRT or lack of estrogen cause the weight gain?

I had my hyst and ovaries removed 3/21 and was also put on 1 mg. Estradiol - there has been nothing but weight gain for me. No changes in anything, food intake, exercise, etc. I'm now slowing taking myself off the HRT gradually and already, after 3 weeks feel better. Breasts are not as large (swollen) energy is coming back. So, I've decided, it is time to get off the HRT! I am 58 now, so I'm very close to the "golden years" and should be on my own. My currect OB/GYn says you can stay on HRT for ever if it makes you feel better - my Primary Phys. so otherwise - you should not need it at my age. Anyway, all I can say is that the as far as I'm concerned, my weight gain is absolutely due to the HRT! I'm getting off. Will let you know how I do.
Unread 08-08-2005, 09:44 PM
Does HRT or lack of estrogen cause the weight gain?

I think that HRT can cause fluid retention issues, and increase appetite in some - from what I've read.

Don't know from experience, but I'm 10 wks post-op and am not on HRT, so I'm lacking hormones and my shape has not changed!

I've been eating very healthy and exercising and have only noticed a nice muscular shape in my legs and arms now that I'm lifting weights.
My strategy was to work out the arms (so I could wear sleeveless tops and not get sweaty), and the legs (so I could boycott pantyhose and not pinch the belly or get sweaty!)

I think if you decide to go without HRT, you should be evaluated by your dr for the long-term risks of no HRT: like your cholesterol levels, and modify your diet (and/or take a cholesterol lowering medication, like Lipitor) and watch your calcium intake (should be 1500 for a post-menopausal woman w/o HRT) or take Actonel/Fosomax (for osteoporosis prevention).
And of course begin to so some exercise to postpone that "apple". (I believe I'll always be a "pear" with a backside that follows me everywhere..what happened to that hourglass??? )

Unread 08-08-2005, 09:50 PM

Hey-=I actually go to Dr.Vliet and she is a jewel. I tried the patch and my body could not get enough of the hormones to help me out so I had to start taking them orally. Different people absorb hormones differently. She recomends having blood tests to find out the levels of your hormones. I am orally taking .25 mg estrace or is it 2.5mg spread throughout the day. I am finally feeling better. I am not gaining weight and my mood is better. I suggest getting blood tests done and trying different methods that may absorb in your system better.
Good luck and God bless!!
Unread 08-09-2005, 03:02 PM
Does HRT or lack of estrogen cause the weight gain?

I hate to say, but since I started my hrt in '96, I've gained approx. 75 lbs with no dramatic changes in my other habits (eating/exercise) which were not bad.
Unread 08-09-2005, 03:32 PM
Does HRT or lack of estrogen cause the weight gain?

Another thing to consider when there is weight gain post-op is thyroid function. It's not unusual for there to be thyroid problems after surgery, so be sure you have your thyroid levels checked.

There are a couple of articles in the Hormone Article List regarding weight gain that you might find interesting: Janie's Thyroid Story, Weight and HRT and Weight and Menopause.

I hope this helps!

Unread 08-09-2005, 05:48 PM
Does HRT or lack of estrogen cause the weight gain?

75 lb. weight gain over 9 years. This is an average gain of 8.3 lbs each year. Sadly this translates to about 83 calories per day more than what you need. 1 glass of nonfat milk = 90 calories, 1 slice bread = 110 cal, or 15 tortilla chips = 140 calories. A 120 lb. woman who walks a mile over 30 min. (slow pace) will burn around 100 calories. Thyroid dysfunction can affect weight- but there would be other symptoms involved. So you can see that very subtle changes of diet, exercise, or metabolism can easily add up.

In any event, it sounds like some good nutritional counseling is in order- along with a physical.

Randomized studies of intact women vs women with hysterectomies have failed to show any dramatic changes in weight. There are studies that show changes in fat distribution after menopause.

* the math:
1 lb weight gain = 3500 calories more than you needed. 3500 X 75 lbs.=262,500 calories. 262,500 calories / 9yrs = 29,167 calories per year. 29,167 cal/352 days = 83 calories per day.

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