Does Estrogen Make You Gain Weight?

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Categories: Research

Does estrogen make you gain weightPostmenopausal women suffering from hot flashes, may hesitate to take estrogen because they’ve heard it can cause weight gain. Who needs any extra help to gain weight? Is there any truth to all this?

What are Bioidentical Hormones?

When you’re replacing deficient estrogen, it’s important to respect the wisdom of the body. No drug we give can approach the amazing complexity of the endocrine system. However, you can start by giving a hormone that is identical to the hormone that’s missing. We call these bioidentical hormones.

Another important factor is the route of administration. Estrogen is most commonly given as a pill that’s taken orally. It’s convenient and easy to pop a pill. But easy isn’t always the best. If we’re wanting to mimic the body, how does the ovary deliver estrogen to your tissues? I assure you the ovary doesn’t dump a big load of estrogen in your stomach once a day!! A more natural way to take estrogen is by applying it to the skin as a patch or cream. Estrogen taken in a pill form overloads your liver with excessive amounts of estrogen that increase harmful proteins, clotting factors and proinflammatory substances leading to various problems. Let me explain how oral estrogen leads to weight gain.

Weight Gain & Oral Estrogen

Weight gain from oral estrogen causes visceral obesity, the medical term for increased fat around your middle from fat that gets deposited in vital organs like the heart, kidneys and liver. This increased fat mass leads to increases in leptin produced by the fat cells. Topical, but not oral, estradiol prevents this increase in body fat and leptin. An interesting fact about visceral obesity is that women who take NO estrogen can also get weight gain around their middle because they develop insulin resistance. This is a frequent complaint from older women who are not on estrogen!

Oral, but not topical, estrogen increases the production of thyroxine-binding globulin (TBG) the carrier for thyroid hormone. Higher levels of TBG lower the amount of available thyroid hormone thereby lowering your metabolism. Oral, but not topical, estrogen also suppresses IGF-1, a marker for growth hormone. Growth hormone is needed to build muscle and burn fat. All this explains a common complaint I hear from women who’ve been on oral estrogen. “After starting oral estrogen, I gained 15 pounds in the first month and I didn’t increase my calories or lower my exercise. Now I’m eating less and exercising more and I just keep gaining!” Estrogen from injections or pellets can also lead to weight gain because the blood levels produced are much too high.

Weight gain from oral or injectable estrogen occurs because these preparations violate the natural physiology of the body. The ovary is amazing…it releases tiny bits of estradiol throughout the day directly into the blood stream. Even topical estradiol preparations can’t reproduce this same elegant effect, but it’s the closest delivery system we have. That’s why your chances of maintaining a healthy metabolism and weight are best when you choose topical estradiol preparations.

References:
O’Sullivan, AJ, Crampton LJ, Freund, et al, “The route of estrogen replacement therapy confers divergent effects on substrate oxidation and body composition in postmenopausal women,” The Journal of Clinical Investigation, vol 102, (1998): pp 1035-1040.
Lwin R., Darnell B. Oster R, et al, Effect of oral estrogen on substrate utilization in postmenopausal women,” Fertility and Sterility, vol. 90, no 4, (2008): pp 1275-1278
DeCarlo C, Tommaselli G, et al, “Serum leptin levels and body composition in postmenopausal women: effects of hormone therapy,” Menopause, vol 11, no 4 (2004): pp 466-473
Nachtigall LE, Raju U, Banerjee S, et al, “Serum estradiol binding profiles in postmenopausal women undergoing three common estrogen replacement therapies: association with sex hormone binding globulin, estradiol and estrone levels,” Menopause, vol 7, (2000): pp 243-250.
Slater CC, Hodis HN, Mack WJ, et al, “Markedly elevated levels of estrone sulfate after long-term oral, but not transdermal, administration of estradiol in postmenopausal women,” Menopause, vol 8, (2001): pp 200-203

Safer Options Exist—Top Eight Natural Birth Control Methods

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Categories: Research| Uncategorized

Safer Options Exist—Top Eight Natural Birth Control Methods

 

 

 

 

 

 

Young women are often not given options for natural birth control. They opt for BCPs because they’re easily available and convenient and they’re not aware of the the health risks.Here are some effective options for natural family planning that prevent pregnancy without damaging your health.

Barrier Methods:

Male condoms: Condoms have a 98 percent effectiveness rate when used correctly. A water-based lubricant will increase the effectiveness; do not use an oil-based lubricant, however, as they break the latex.
• Female condoms: These thin, soft polyurethane pouches fitted inside the vagina before sex are 95 percent effective. Female condoms are less likely to tear than male condoms.
Diaphragm: A diaphragm is a soft latex or silicone dome that’s inserted into the vagina before sex. It must be initially fitted by a doctor. When used correctly with spermicidal jellies, it’s 92 to 98 percent effective.
Cervical cap: This heavy rubber cap fits tightly against the cervix and can be left in place for 48 hours. Like the diaphragm, a doctor must fit the cap. Proper fitting enhances the effectiveness above 91 percent.
• Cervical sponges: The sponge, made of polyurethane foam, is moistened with water and inserted into the vagina prior to sex. It works as a barrier between sperm and the cervix, both trapping and absorbing sperm and releasing a spermicide to kill them. It can be left in for up to 24 hours at a time. When used correctly, the sponge is about 89-91 percent effective.

Tracking Ovulation:


• Calendar Method:
The woman avoids sex during the week the she is ovulating. This technique works best when a woman’s menstrual cycle is very regular. However, it may not work very well for couples who use it as the sole means of contraception, as its success rate is only around 75 percent. You can boost its effectiveness by combining it with the temperature and mucus methods described below.
• The Basal Body Temperature Method: This is a way to pinpoint the day of ovulation so that sex can be avoided for a few days before and after. It involves taking your basal body temperature (your temperature upon first waking) each morning with an accurate “basal” thermometer, and noting the rise in temperature that occurs after ovulation. This method works best in women who have regular monthly cycles.

Following your basal body temperatures enables you to become so aware of ovulation that when you’re ready to have your family you can better plan your pregnancy. I used this method myself when
I was in medical school and I was able to later choose a convenient time to have my pregnancy!

Be aware that illness or lack of sleep can change your body temperature and make this method unreliable by itself, but when it is combined with the mucus method, it can be an accurate way of assessing fertility. The two methods combined can have a success rate as high as 98 percent.

The Mucus Method: This involves tracking changes in the amount and texture of vaginal discharge, that reflect rising levels of estrogen in your body. For the first few days after your period, there is often no discharge, but there will be a cloudy, tacky mucus as estrogen starts to rise. When the discharge starts to increase in volume and becomes clear and stringy, ovulation is near. A return to the tacky, cloudy mucus or no discharge means that ovulation has passed.

I realize the convenience of birth control pills is what makes them so popular. However, my advice to women is to seriously evaluate the risks versus benefits before taking any type of birth control pills. A bit of planning on your part is well worth the health risks you’ll avoid.

Recommended Reading

1. Outliving Your Ovaries by Dr. Marina Johnson. While I initially wrote this book for menopausal women, I also included chapters for young women that included a section on natural birth control.
2. Taking Charge of Your Fertility: The Definitive Guide to Natural Birth Control, Pregnancy Achievement and Reproductive Health by Toni Weschler
3. Honoring Our Cycles: A Natural Family Planning Workbook by Katie Singer

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The content of this website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice,diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. This website may discuss nutritional products and protocols that have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. These products or the information contained on this website is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.