As you’ve gotten older, have you noticed yourself battling frustrating issues like decreased energy, weight gain, and low libido? If so, you may wonder whether these issues are normal — and what you can do to fix them.
Chances are, you’ve already looked into hormone replacement therapy (HRT), a treatment used to optimize hormone imbalances for men and women in all stages of life. But before getting started, there’s likely a pressing question on your mind: How long after starting HRT do you feel a difference?
Let’s first examine why people consider HRT to determine if this treatment plan may be right for you.
The following symptoms may prompt people to have conversations with their doctor about HRT:
- Energy loss. You feel drained most days or need a midday nap just to get through the afternoon.
- Weight gain. You eat healthy, exercise, and maintain a healthy lifestyle and still can’t lose weight or gain muscle.
- Decreased libido. Your sex drive been low for a while.
- Poor sleep. You frequently wake up in the middle of the night, have trouble falling asleep, and are exhausted when you wake up.
- Erectile dysfunction. For men, you’re struggling with a pattern of erectile dysfunction.
- Menopause symptoms. For women, you’re experiencing symptoms of menopause, like vaginal dryness, night sweats, and hot flashes.
Remember, just because you have one (or more) of the symptoms listed above doesn’t necessarily mean you need HRT.
When diagnosing our members, we look at these symptoms in tandem with medical history, metabolic health, thyroid health, and blood sugar levels to determine the best course of action for balancing hormones — whether that be HRT or another form of treatment.
How Long After Starting HRT Do You Feel a Difference?
Immediate results are what we all want, but the benefits of HRT take a little time. While many people notice improvements in sleep or mood within weeks of starting HRT, changes like improved muscle mass or fat loss can take at least three to six months.
The following chart shows approximately how long it may take someone to feel a difference from receiving HRT treatment administered using pellets inserted under the skin. These pellets release doses of hormones to create a steady stream in your body. A similar timeline also applies to injections, creams, and other forms of HRT.
What Could Change the Timeline or Effectiveness of HRT?
Most people feel better after three to six months of HRT; however, there are outside factors that can impact effectiveness, including the following:
When you’re recuperating from an illness like COVID-19, it’s more difficult to eat nutritious foods, stay active, and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Hormones are impacted by stressors like sickness, so if you become ill at the beginning of hormone therapy, it’s not uncommon to see a delay in the results.
If you’re on certain types of medication, like antibiotics or steroids, they may interfere with or delay the results of HRT.
Do you have a big deadline coming up at work? Are you feeling overwhelmed juggling your kids’ school requirements and extracurricular activities? Are you currently caring for a sick or elderly family member?
Stressful situations like these can often cause you to neglect your health. You may find yourself eating junk food or failing to exercise because you’re strapped for time. Unfortunately, stress can also affect your hormones. HRT won’t have an optimal impact and may take longer to “work” if you’re currently living an unhealthy, high-stress lifestyle.
If you are skipping hormone injections, not applying the cream regularly, or failing to properly follow your prescribed treatment plan, you will not see the results from HRT as quickly.
The key to HRT is to maintain consistent levels of hormones. For example, someone who applies the cream daily (or as often as prescribed) will have a steady stream of hormones, whereas someone who uses it inconsistently will have fluctuating hormones. Shots are similar — we recommend members stay on the recommended schedule of injections to maintain optimal hormone levels.
If you struggle to remember to apply hormone creams or feel inconvenienced or turned off by injections, pellets may be a better option. Since the pellets are inserted under your skin, the hormones are released through your natural blood flow. As long as you maintain an active lifestyle, you won’t have to worry about maintaining the “highs” and “lows” that can come with other treatment plans.
What Changes Should You Expect After Starting HRT?
After starting HRT, you may notice the following changes:
- Better sleep. Even after just a few weeks of HRT, most patients (especially women) experience higher-quality sleep.
- Better mood. When your hormone levels are optimal and sleep returns, your mood also begins to improve.
- More effective exercise. As time passes, you may notice you can spend longer in the gym, lift heavier weights, and not be as sore the next day.
- Normal libido. If you were experiencing a low sex drive before HRT, you’ll likely notice your sex drive improve after several months of treatment.
Is Hormone Replacement Therapy Right for You?
When combined with a healthy lifestyle, hormone replacement therapy can be a great way to improve your sleep cycle, sex drive, energy levels, mood, and several other symptoms that negatively impact your day-to-day life.
If you’ve noticed one or more symptoms of hormone imbalance, it may be beneficial to have a conversation with your physician. Our team at Griffin Concierge Medical will help you determine the root cause of your symptoms and work with you to create a treatment plan compatible with your lifestyle.