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What is the Connection Between Progesterone and Weight Loss?

K.C. Bruning
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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The connection between progesterone and weight loss is that it helps people to both maintain a healthy body weight and avoid weight gain by limiting the production of excess fat, and may also reducing food cravings caused by hormonal imbalance. Progesterone, which is a natural human hormone, typically increases a person’s metabolism, lowers active insulin levels, and helps the thyroid to function more efficiently. All of this can help facilitate weight loss under the right conditions. The hormone is not usually prescribed specifically for weight issues, though; most of the time these consequences are just side effects. People should usually be careful taking this or any hormone without talking to a medical provider about all of the risks and benefits. In most cases there are safer and more effective ways to lose weight if this is a person’s primary goal.

Progesterone Basics

Both men and women usually produce some progesterone naturally, though it is usually highest in women during menstruation and pregnancy. It’s also a common addition to many hormone replacement therapies, particularly those designed for menopausal women. People can often increase their progesterone intake or production naturally by eating foods, particularly dairy products, that contain it, but the most common means of introducing it is through pharmaceutical capsule or injection. Chemists can and often do recreate this and other hormones synthetically.

Hormone Balancing Issues

Healthcare providers most commonly prescribe progesterone for people whose natural hormone levels are in a state of flux and variance, often as a result of menopause or other reproductive issue. Imbalanced hormones can make it extremely difficult to lose weight. Over time, restored progesterone levels usually help people shed excess pounds and stay at a healthy size.

Somewhat confusingly, however, the hormone may actually cause temporary weight gain when it’s first introduced, particularly if it’s coming in large quantities. Once the body adjusts to higher levels of progesterone, the individual’s weight should normalize and will often even drop below where it was before hormone therapy began. Many people are not aware that there is a connection between progesterone and weight loss because they are alarmed by that initial gain and do not continue to use the hormone long enough to see its benefits.

Relationship With Estrogen

One of the best ways to understand the connection between progesterone and weight loss is to look at the role of estrogen, another hormone. Women produce the most estrogen, but it’s also present in men in smaller quantities. Under ideal circumstances these two hormones work together, but in the case of an imbalance estrogen levels may surge; when this happens, people often begin to grow heavier. Excessive estrogen turns calories into fat. Reintroducing progesterone can counteract the dominance of estrogen in the body, but this is why people often see gain at first: in most cases the progesterone has to focus on neutralizing the excess estrogen which is fighting for dominance in the body before it can work on stabilizing metabolism and energy efficiency.

Fluid Retention and Thyroid Function

The hormone’s diuretic effects also help it to relieve fluid retention, which often causes bloating and swelling. Supplemental progesterone burns fat by increasing metabolism so that the body can more effectively turn it into energy. Low progesterone can impede proper functioning of the thyroid, as well, which regulates metabolism in the body. It also increases the amount of insulin, a hormone essential to carbohydrate and fat metabolism; this can cause sugar cravings and subsequent weight gain. Excess insulin causes the body to create and store more fat than is necessary, too.

Risks and Warnings

Hormone therapies are usually somewhat serious, and medical experts don’t typically recommend them lightly. People who need them are usually suffering from a range of other problems more serious than weight gain. Slimming down is often a happy side effect for patients, but isn’t usually a reason to begin therapy in the first place. There are usually many other safer weight loss programs that don’t directly interfere with the body’s hormonal chemistry.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
K.C. Bruning
By K.C. Bruning
Kendahl Cruver Bruning, a versatile writer and editor, creates engaging content for a wide range of publications and platforms, including The Health Board. With a degree in English, she crafts compelling blog posts, web copy, resumes, and articles that resonate with readers. Bruning also showcases her passion for writing and learning through her own review site and podcast, offering unique perspectives on various topics.
Discussion Comments
By anon1003091 — On Apr 29, 2020

I took progesterone 20mg 2x daily for 5 years and gained 30 lbs. It was still low at 0.11 and my estrogen was also low at 0.1. I was getting 2x 30 mg and my progesterone went up to 2.0. Now I take 75 mg progesterone 1x a day and 0.25 bi est a day. I've lost 10 lbs. Hope this helps.

By anon995792 — On May 26, 2016

After giving birth to my son I became very sick. I actually thought I must have cancer and be dying, I felt so bad. My thyroid also swelled and I developed a goiter. The blood work always showed that my thyroid levels were fine. No one could help me and it was so frustrating. I finally went to a doctor who tested my hormones- I had basically no progesterone in my system, or testosterone. Once I started taking those in the form of a torch- not a cream- my symptoms started improving. I lost weight, my hair stopped falling out, the swelling and body aches went away, and the fatigue was so much better. I had no idea how a lack of progesterone can lead to thyroid problems, insulin problems, inflammation issues. It's a balancing act for sure, and taking progesterone without getting tested first and having a compound prescription done could probably lead to weight gain and other issues. It will only help you if that is truly what is wrong with you.

By anon350844 — On Oct 08, 2013

I have been on a 1,200 calorie diet now for six weeks and haven't lost a pound. Now I know why. I did a hormone test and it revealed I was very low in progesterone. So frustrating!

By anon344909 — On Aug 13, 2013

Does anyone know exactly how long the weight gain effects last before you start losing weight with progesterone?

By Mykol — On Jul 29, 2012

@bagley79-- You are certainly not alone when it comes to menopause and weight loss. I think this is probably one of the most common complaints as women age.

One thing my doctor started checking on me was my thyroid levels. When I started putting on extra weight for no apparent reason, this is something he checked out right away.

Before this I also realized I was really craving sweets, and this did not help my problem at all. Come to find out, part of my thyroid problem was low progesterone.

Once I started the right treatment, I was able to lose some weight and I felt a whole lot better too. For me it was a combination of starting progesterone and a thyroid supplement as well.

By bagley79 — On Jul 28, 2012

I would get pretty discouraged if I started to gain weight when I started to use progesterone. Weight is one thing I really struggle with, and this has become even harder to lose now that I am going through menopause.

How much weight does someone usually put on before they start to lose it after starting this? I am also curious as to how long this takes. Even if I knew this was supposed to happen, it would be hard.

I am motivated to continue using something when I see positive results, but if I started gaining weight instead of losing it, I would probably quit taking it.

By myharley — On Jul 27, 2012

If someone is interested in using progesterone, one thing I would recommend is getting your progesterone levels tested first. It is a good idea to get many of your hormones tested, so you know for sure which ones your body needs.

Having your hormones out of whack can really mess up your system, and this just gives you an indication of where your levels are at. I use a progesterone cream in the morning and at night because I tested really low in progesterone.

This has helped me with hot flashes, but I really had no idea there was a connection between progesterone and weight loss. I have noticed a big difference in my symptoms since starting this, and now I will continue to use it for sure.

By LisaLou — On Jul 26, 2012

There are many times when I have found it convenient to blame my weight gain on hormones. It sounds like there is more truth to that than I realized. I have not had to make the decision about using supplemental hormones yet, and find myself confused by it all.

It seems like I remember reading there are some negative progesterone side effects, but I might have that confused with conventional hormone treatment.

If using a natural progesterone can help with symptoms of menopause and help me lose weight at the same time, it sounds like something that would be worth looking into.

K.C. Bruning
K.C. Bruning
Kendahl Cruver Bruning, a versatile writer and editor, creates engaging content for a wide range of publications and...
Learn more
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