Women are said to have reached menopause when they haven't seen their period for about a year.
Weight gain, along with other symptoms like vaginal drying, hot flashes, mood swings, and hair thinning are some of the symptoms experienced in menopause.
Symptoms vary among women, from mild and tolerable to distressing.
What is the relationship between weight gain and menopause?
During menopause, there's a reduction in the female hormones estrogen and progesterone. These hormones, especially estrogen, help in the distribution of body fat to areas like your buttocks and hips. In the absence of estrogen, this fat accumulates around your tummy.
Women begin to notice the changes in their bodies just before the onset of menopause. This is known as the perimenopausal period.
Apart from hormones, other factors like aging, genetics, and lifestyle contribute to weight gain.
As a person gets older, there's a loss of muscle mass. This, combined with a reduced metabolism, leads to burning of fewer calories and the accumulation of fat.
Genetics also plays an important role because your body size can be determined by the weight of your female relatives.
Also, living a sedentary lifestyle, inadequate sleep, and having a poor eating habit contribute to weight gain.
Why the concern about weight gain?
There are various risks associated with excess weight, especially in the abdominal region. These include health issues such as heart diseases, stroke, diabetes, sleep problems, and breathing problems. It has also been found to increase the risk of certain cancers, like breast cancer, endometrial cancer, and colon cancer.
Tips for weight loss
- Exercise: Older people who exercise tend to be in better physical shape and enjoy a healthier life than those who live sedentary lives.
Exercise helps you lose weight and maintain a healthy weight.
Most experts recommend that adults should engage in moderate aerobic activity, which includes brisk walking or jogging. Exercise should be done at least 4 to 5 times per week for about 150 minutes per week. This includes muscle-strengthening activity, to be engaged in at least twice per week.
If you have been inactive for a while, it is important to check with your doctor so you can be advised on how to begin and the best exercise for you.
- Diet: A crash diet is never recommended, as such lost weight is often quickly regained. It also doesn't provide your body with the nutrients it requires. Instead, eat more vegetables, fruits, nuts, and fish. Also, drink adequate amounts of water, avoid processed foods, and limit intake of alcohol, red meat, and fizzy or carbonated drinks. In place of energy drinks, coffee, and sweetened teas, opt for water.
- You also need to eat smaller portions to reduce your calorie intake.
- Other lifestyle habits: This includes getting adequate sleep, quitting smoking, and avoiding a sedentary life.
What about hormone replacement therapy?
Hormone replacement therapy can help reduce some of the postmenopausal symptoms, like hot flashes, mood swings, etc.
While it doesn't exactly stop weight gain, it is thought that it may help with the redistribution of fat from the abdomen to your buttocks and thighs. However, hormone replacement therapy may carry some risks. If you are experiencing frustrating menopausal symptoms, reach out to your healthcare provider for advice on whether hormone replacement therapy is right for you.
Weight gain in menopause can be quite frustrating, and for many women, it appears there is nothing that can be done about it.
While weight gain is inevitable for many women, not every menopausal woman experiences it, as there are other influencing factors.
However, no matter the case, you can give yourself a fighting chance by following the recommendations discussed above.