Weight Gain During Menopauseweight-gain-after-menopause

As women approach menopause they endure many symptoms, but one that proves the most difficult for many women to accept is menopausal weight gain.
Not only can a few extra pounds (or maybe more) ravage a woman´s self-esteem and self-image, but weight gain can usher in a host of health concerns that put a woman at risk of developing life-threatening conditions.

Up to 64% of adults are considered either overweight or obese.

About 90% of menopausal women experience some amount of weight gain. Although weight gain is a natural and common aspect of getting older, there are ways to reduce it. Women who are educated about this symptom are more likely to find ways around the typical spare-tire waist or extra inches here and there.

About Weight Gain

Weight gain takes place when a woman increases her body mass, whether as a result of fat deposits, additional muscle tissue, or excess fluid. However, weight gain associated with menopause typically involves increased amounts of fat around the mid-section.

On average, women gain between 6 to 7 Kg between the ages of 45 and 55, the stage in life when menopause typically occurs. This extra weight generally does not evenly distribute itself throughout a woman´s body. The weight tends instead to accumulate around the abdomen, and women often notice the shape of their bodies slowly lose their hour-glass figure and begin to take on a rounder shape. This body transformation is a typical aspect of weight gain during menopause.

Symptoms of Weight Gain

Women generally know when they have gained weight and don´t need to learn how to identify this menopausal symptom. Some of the indicators, however, are unique to weight gain associated with menopause.

Risks of Weight Gain

Weight gain during menopause entails more than just aesthetic concerns. Although no one enjoys looking in the mirror and seeing a softer, plumper body looking back, weight gain can lead to very serious health conditions that transcend visual displeasure. Several diseases and other conditions can spawn as a result of a body burdened with excess pounds. Here is a list of conditions weight gain can lead to:

  • Heart disease, stroke
  • High blood pressure
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Breast cancer
  • High cholesterol
  • Kidney disease
  • Sleep apnea
  • Insulin resistance (increasing diabetes risks)
  • More severe menopausal symptoms

Weight gain and breast cancer

Women who gain in excess of 10Kg after menopause increase their breast cancer risk by nearly 20 percent, but those who lose 10Kg after menopause reduce their breast cancer risk by as much as 23 percent.

Causes of Weight Gain

As years progress the metabolism slows; setting the physiological stage for weight gain. Although age itself can lead to plumped midsections, women approaching menopause have particular cause for concern. As a woman´s hormones fluctuate prior to menopause and preparing for a permanently reduced hormonal level, it is likely to experience weight gain.

Hormonal Causes of Weight Gain

A woman´s hormones have complex functions in her body, including weight control. Here´s a list of the different hormones that can affect weight gain and how:
Estrogen: As a woman´s ovaries produce less estrogen, her body attempts to find the hormone in places other than the ovaries. Fat cells can produce estrogen, so her body works harder to convert calories into fat to increase estrogen levels. Unfortunately, fat cells don’t burn calories the way muscle cells do, which causes weight gain.

Progesterone: Water retention is often linked to menopause because water weight and bloating are caused by decreased Progesterone levels: Though this doesn’t actually result in weight gain, clothes can feel a bit tighter and a woman may feel as though she´s heavier.

Menopause Munchies
A drop in estrogen and progesterone can increase a woman´s appetite and cause her to eat up to 67% more, according to one study. An increase in appetite coupled with a slower metabolism with the onset of menopause can cause weight gain in women. This could, perhaps, account for the 12% jump in the number of women who are overweight in midlife compared to women in their 20s and 30s.

Androgen: The amount of this hormone increases at the onset of menopause. It´s responsible for sending new weight to the mid-section instead of to the hips, which many women are accustomed to. Some women even have a nickname for the menopause years based on the mid-section weight gain: “the middle-age spread”.

Testosterone: Testosterone helps a woman´s body create lean muscle mass out of the calories consumed. Muscle cells burn more calories than fat cells do, increasing metabolic rate. As testosterone levels drop, fewer calories are transformed into lean muscle mass, thus a woman´s metabolism winds down.

Insulin Resistance: Insulin resistance can occur during the menopausal years. This is when a woman´s body mistakenly turns every calorie taken in into fat. Over time, processed and refined foods may make a woman´s body resistant to insulin produced in the blood stream.

Hypothyroidism and Weight Gain
Women with an underactive thyroid often experience wait gain because their metabolic rate slows down as a result of the condition. In some cases, hyperthyroidism can also cause weight gain, but that is rare. Thyroid hormones essentially regulate calorie consumption in the body. With an underactive thyroid, fewer calories are burned and converted into energy. Instead they are stored in the body.

Other Causes of Weight Gain

Although hormones are largely responsible for weight gain during menopause, there are other factors that can play a role as well. They are separated into two categories: age and lifestyle factors.

Age and weight gain:

Beginning at about age 30, an individual´s physical abilities begin to decrease and continue deteriorating until about age 60 or 70. The body´s abilities then level off and decline at a slower rate. The rate of decline depends largely on an individual´s physical activity and particular lifestyle. This decreasing physical ability affects weight because a person becomes less able to engage in physical activities that help to maintain a stable weight by burning calories. To compound the potential for weight gain with age, the metabolic rate begins to slow after age 30, which also leads to weight gain.

Lifestyle and weight gain:

Even though physical changes are an unavoidable part of getting older that leads to weight gain, a woman´s lifestyle
is also a hugely important variable that can either tip the scale in favor of extra pounds or fend off weight gain.

Below are some lifestyle factors that can lead to weight gain:

  • Stress
  • Reduced physical activity
  • Change in eating habit
  • Medication use
  • Drinking excess amount of Alcohol
  • Stop Smoking

Treatment for Menopausal Symptoms: