Does HRT cause weight gain?

Does HRT cause weight gain - Older woman holds her hand to her face and is smiling to camera

No Shopping for a Year!

It’s nearly the end of March and I still haven’t bought any new clothes. I must admit it isn’t easy but it is saving me a fortune! However, my weight is still not changing and is really starting to affect my confidence now. It’s a really hard one to talk about really, as when I’ve broached it with the GP previously I’ve always been made to feel like I’m just been super vain. But I’m now wondering, does HRT cause weight gain?

I’ve noticed since I switched to the patch/pill combination of HRT my weight has just skyrocketed, especially around my middle. It’s now at the stage that I worry it is affecting my health. I’d love to know if others have found weight gain as a side effect of HRT. I’m due for my annual review so I’ll bring up then and explain my concerns to the GP.

What is HRT?

HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) replaces the hormones that a women’s body stops producing during Perimenopause and Menopause.

The 2 hormones used in HRT are:

  • Oestrogen
  • Progestogen

HRT is offered as either Oestrogen-only HRT or combined HRT (OEtrogen & Progestogen).

Which HRT is best?

There are several ways to take HRT.


Tablets are one of the most common types of HRT. They are taken once a day. Both Oestrogen-only and combined HRT are available as tablets and many women find this the easiest way of taking HRT.

Some of the risks of HRT (i.e.blood clots) are slightly higher with it in tablet form, but it is still a small risk.


Patches are also one of the most common types of HRT. Again these are available in both Oestrogen-only and combined HRT and are applied to the skin below the waist level twice a week.

Skin patches are a good option if taking a tablet daily is not suitable. They also do not increase your risk of a blood clot.

Oestrogen gel

Gel is becoming an increasingly popular form of HRT. It is rubbed onto your skin once a day. Like skin patches, the gel can be a handy way of taking HRT and does not increase your risk of blood clots.

However, if you still have your womb, you’ll need to take some form of progestogen separately too, to reduce your risk of womb cancer.


HRT can also come as a small pellet-like implant. It is inserted under your skin (usually around the tummy area) after your skin has been numbed with a local anaesthetic.

Implants release Oestrogen gradually and last for several months. Again, if you still have your womb, you’ll need to take some form of progestogen separately too, to reduce your risk of womb cancer.

Implants of HRT are not widely available and are not used very often.

Vaginal oestrogen

Oestrogen is also available as a cream, pessary or ring that is inserted into the vagina. It can help with symptoms of vaginal dryness but will not help with symptoms such as night sweats and hot flashes.

Vaginal Oestrogen does not carry the usual risks of HRT so you can use it without taking progestogen, even if you still have a womb.

NB: Testosterone

If you have been suffering from loss of libido and HRT does not help restore your sex drive, you might be offered testosterone. It is not currently licensed in the UK, but a specialist doctor can prescribe it if they feel you may benefit. It is taken alongside HRT.

Does HRT cause weight gain?

Side effects of HRT

Like any medicine, HRT does come with the chance of side effects. These usually reduce over the first 3-4 months, so it is a good idea to take for at least this long and if after this symptoms still persist, talk to your GP.

The main side effects of taking oestrogen include:

  • bloating
  • breast tenderness or swelling
  • swelling in other parts of the body
  • feeling sick
  • leg cramps
  • headaches
  • indigestion
  • vaginal bleeding

The main side effects of taking progestogen include:

  • breast tenderness
  • swelling in other parts of the body
  • headaches or migraines
  • mood swings
  • depression
  • acne
  • tummy (abdominal) pain
  • back pain
  • vaginal bleeding
Weight gain and HRT

According to the NHS website, there is no evidence that HRT can cause weight gain. Weight gain is more likely to happen during menopause, regardless of taking HRT or not.

In fact, HRT can actually have the opposite effect according to Dr Louise Newman, however, it can depend on the type of HRT that is taken.

“Many women are concerned that they will put on weight when they begin taking HRT. However, having oestrogen through the skin as a gel or patch with micronised progesterone does not usually lead to weight gain. Many women, including this lady, find that they lose weight after starting HRT which is clearly another advantage!”

Dr Newson, Balance Menopause

Now armed with the above I feel more confident in going to my GP, to explain my concerns about my type of HRT and weight gain. I’ll request switching to gel to see if this helps at least slow down the weight gain, and reduce bloating. I will keep you posted.

Has anyone here had any experience in regard to weight gain on HRT, or noticed a change either way when changing the type of HRT? I’d love to hear about your experiences.

Fay x

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Useful menopause sites and information:

Menopause – NHS (

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