You’ve done your research and determined that Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT) is right for you. You know the benefits include increased mental focus and clarity and consistent, improved mood and you want to experience what it’s like when your hormones are finally balanced. You’ve even already spoken to your doctor about the risks and established that the benefits are worth it in the long run.
So what comes next? What can you expect from BHRT after you have decided it’s a good fit for you?
Knowing what changes you can expect when just starting BHRT—mentally, physically, and emotionally—will help you deal with them when they come up. You’ll be better equipped to handle side effects when you know what you’re in for and how long they’ll last.
The First 3 Months: Potential Side Effects
Every person is unique, so your experience with hormone replacement therapy may be different from someone else’s. For instance, some individuals won’t experience any side effects from BHRT. Others, on the other hand, may have unexpected side effects the first few weeks.
When you first start hormone replacement therapy, you might experience a few side effects as your body adjusts to the hormone fluctuations. Side effects may vary by person, dose, method, and type of hormone taken. Your age also plays a role in the side effects you may experience.
However, here are some common side effects of oestrogen and/or progestogen:
- Breast tenderness or swelling
- Vaginal bleeding
- Bodily swelling
Higher risks may result, especially depending on the balance of your hormones. Do your research and talk to your doctor about the best preventative methods.
It’s always recommended that you talk with your doctor about your risk factors and personal circumstances involved and keep seeing them every 3-6 months during treatment.
How Long Will It Take My Body To Adjust To BHRT?
The good news is that the side effects of BHRT usually improve over time. It’s recommended you stay on your treatment for at least 6 months to get a clearer idea of whether or not it’s making a difference for you and if the side effects reduce over time.
Always talk to your doctor if symptoms are severe and persist longer than the 3 month mark. If it doesn’t feel normal, your doctor will be able to talk you through it and come up with alternative treatment options.
Depending on your hormones, taking them with food, watching what you eat, and adding exercise to your routine may help. Stretching might ease cramping, and a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet might improve breast tenderness, for example. You could also try lowering the dosage and changing which type you take for added relief after three months.
How Soon Will I Start Seeing Results?
Besides the potential side effects, your body will probably change physically, mentally, emotionally, and sexually when starting BHRT. You may even feel more confident along the way! While the results will differ from person to person, here’s what you can expect from your hormone replacement therapy.
Depending on which hormone you take and your dosage, you can expect to start noticing changes within the first couple weeks or months. For some patients on bioidentical progesterone or estrogen treatments, results can be noticed in as little as 2 weeks.
You’ll likely see relief in frustrating symptoms of menopause, but it may take longer than you’d like. Women have reported improved sleep, less joint pain, better mood, and recovered concentration. Additionally, they have more energy, fewer hot flashes, and reversal in the changes around their vagina related to dryness and discomfort during sex.
For men, there is much more extensive research available on testosterone therapy’s effectiveness and when you can start to see results. Check out the chart below for an approximate result timeline.
Testosterone Treatments Timeline For Men:
- 3 weeks: After the first few weeks, you’ll notice a dramatic increase in sexual interest. This typically plateaus around 6 weeks. You will also notice an improvement in quality of life.
- 6 weeks: Symptoms of depression will start to dissipate starting at the six-week point and will continue to improve. You may experience less joint pain and better blood work, as inflammation will start to decrease.
- 3 months: Blood circulation will improve, which leads to better erections. Changes in fat mass, lean body, mass, and muscle strength will become noticeable. These will continue to improve for years. If you have diabetes, you may notice an improvement in glycemic control around this time.
- 6 months: Your bones will begin to strengthen. This will continue for 3 years and beyond!
Symptoms will be person-specific and can vary greatly. How you experience the treatment may be different than anyone else you talk to. Your doctor will be able to tell you what’s in the realm of “normal” and whether or not you need to make changes or be concerned.
For a clear idea of what Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy looks like, check out social media! People transitioning have often recorded their journeys on platforms such as YouTube.
Will I Gain Weight From BHRT?
There is no evidence supporting the claim that BHRT causes added weight gain. So don’t worry! Your Bio-Identical Hormone Treatments won’t affect your waistline or your belly.
If you’re using BHRT for relief from menopause, you should know that menopause itself can cause weight gain—regardless of whether you use BHRT to manage those symptoms. BHRT might also cause water retention, which can cause your weight to appear higher.
Regular exercise and a healthy diet can combat any weight gain. If you’re worried about your treatments affecting your figure, be sure to follow an active lifestyle for best results.
Is There Anything You Can Do To Ease The Process?
Talking with your doctor will help you get on top of anything that comes up during your treatment. To better manage your progress and remember what you need to discuss, try to keep a record of your symptoms. Jot them down in a notebook as they happen, making note of the day and the time and the severity.
You can also prepare a list of questions to ask your doctor and bring your symptom notes. That way, you don’t forget anything important!
Starting BHRT doesn’t have to be scary. By understanding what the first few months will be like, you’ll be prepared for potential side effects and ready to enjoy all the benefits BHRT has to offer.