During menopause, a woman can gain by multiple factors such as lifestyle, genetics, aging, and hormones. However, the menopausal process can vary from woman to woman. This article examines why some women gain weight during and after menopause.
The Female Reproductive Life Cycle
There are four phases of hormonal changes that happen during a woman’s life. These include:
● Premenopause: This is the term for a woman’s reproductive life while she’s fertile.
● Perimenopause: This means “around menopause” when the estrogen levels are erratic and progesterone levels decline
● Menopause: This happens when a woman hasn’t seen a menstrual period for 12 months
● Postmenopause: This starts immediately after a woman has gone 12 months without a period.
How Do Changes In Hormones Affect Metabolism?
During perimenopause, progesterone levels steadily decline while estrogen levels fluctuate significantly daily and even within the same day. In the early part of perimenopause, the ovaries produce high amounts of estrogen due to impaired feedback between the ovaries, pituitary gland, and the hypothalamus.
Later, in perimenopause, the ovaries produce less estrogen. According to some studies, high estrogen levels could result in fat gain. This is because high estrogen levels are connected to weight gain and higher body fat during the reproductive years.
Weight Change During Perimenopause
According to researchers, women are estimated to gain about 2-5 pounds (1-2 kgs) during the perimenopausal transition. However, some gain more weight, as seen in women who are already overweight or have obesity.
Another factor responsible for weight gain in perimenopause is the increased appetite and calorie intake that happens in response to hormonal changes. According to one study, levels of the “hunger hormone,” ghrelin, were discovered to be higher among perimenopausal women compared to premenopausal and postmenopausal women.
Weight Change During and After Menopause
Hormonal changes and weight gain could continue as women exit perimenopause and enter menopause. According to one study of over 1,900 women, those who entered menopause earlier than the average age of 51 had less body fat.
Additionally, postmenopausal women are generally less active than when they were younger. This reduces energy expenditure and results in a loss of muscle mass. Menopausal women also have higher insulin resistance and fasting insulin levels, which drive weight gain and increase heart disease risk.
Menopause can be difficult, both physically and emotionally. Although it might take some time to adjust to the changes happening in your body, it is best to accept these changes that are bound to happen naturally with age.