If you’re on the contraceptive pill or hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for menopause symptoms, you might be wondering: does progesterone make you gain weight? Don’t fret — we’ll take you through the details.
Our hormones are pretty incredible behind-the-scenes workers that keep so many systems running in our bodies.
Sometimes, we’re not entirely sure what their plans are for us — or how much of an impact they are having on our bodies, minds, and moods.
So what is the relationship (if any) between progesterone and weight gain? Let’s dive in.
In this article: 📝
- What is progesterone — and why does it matter?
- How can I prevent weight gain from progesterone?
- Why does progesterone cause weight gain?
- Does progesterone cause belly fat?
- Can you lose weight on progesterone?
What is progesterone — and why does it matter?
Progesterone is two things — a hormone produced by your body and a medication used to help your body if it needs a hormonal boost.
As a hormone occurring in our bodies, progesterone is primarily responsible for:
- preparing the lining of the uterus to welcome a fertilized egg and
- supporting pregnancy, if it happens.
Your progesterone levels rise and fall during your menstrual cycle, and are at their lowest when your period is in full swing.
When you reach perimenopause and your period gets ready to take its final bow, your hormone production goes through some significant changes.
When this happens, you may go onto HRT.
This means that you take medication to replace the hormones that your body is no longer producing as much of — namely estrogen and progesterone.
You can opt for either combined HRT (both progestin and estrogen) or just estrogen — although the latter is not recommended unless you have had a hysterectomy. (Adding progestin to the mix lowers your risk of endometrial cancer.)
But there’s another reason you might encounter progestin before you reach perimenopause. And that’s as a contraceptive.
Birth control pills either contain a combination of estrogen and progestin, or are progestin-only.
Sometimes referred to as the “mini-pill,” progestin-only contraception tricks your body into thinking that you’re pregnant already and stops it from releasing an egg.
It also makes the passage to your uterus a little harder to get through by thickening the mucus in your vagina.
You may also take progestin if you have a health condition that affects your period, experience unusual vaginal bleeding, or if you have severe PMS.
So that’s the lowdown on why you might take it. And now the big question:
Can progesterone make you gain weight? Here’s the scoop.
How can I prevent weight gain from progesterone?
So here’s the story — on its own, progesterone doesn’t cause weight gain.
But if you are experiencing weight gain on progesterone, there may be a reason for that.
Why does progesterone cause weight gain?
You may have experienced this in your monthly cycle, where attacks of the munchies correlate directly with the rise of progesterone levels about a week before your period kicks off. (Nope, you weren’t imagining it.)
Increased hunger may lead to more food intake, which could lead to weight gain.
Does progesterone cause belly fat?
Not exactly — but if you’ve noticed a redistribution of weight during perimenopause, the changes your hormones go through might be at the heart of it.
Our bodies change shape as we age.
There’s a decrease in our lean body mass and an increase in the fat around our bellies.
This could have to do with the way our hormones change as we reach this pivotal life phase — but we’re not entirely sure if or why that is the case.
As we age, our metabolisms also slow down.
If we want to maintain weight, we may have to move more and pay close attention to our diets.
Can you lose weight on progesterone?
While you can lose weight on progesterone if you are actively trying, progesterone probably won’t be at the heart of that weight loss.
But there is some evidence to suggest another link between our hormones and weight loss.
This is significant because higher hormone levels can increase our risk of breast cancer.
If you are overweight, losing weight might lower your hormone levels — particularly those of estrogen and testosterone.
Wherever you’re at, be kind to yourself.
And join us on Peanut.
Let’s normalize the conversations around menopause and support each other through these changes.
We don’t have to do this alone.
📚 More from The 411:
Menopause Weight Loss: What to Know
What Are The Benefits of Progesterone After Menopause?
How to Lose Weight While Breastfeeding
9 Low Progesterone Symptoms
Losing Weight While Pregnant: Risks & Reasons
Menopause & Weight Gain: What to Know
4 Ashwagandha Benefits for Women