Weight Gain and Menopause
When you think of menopause, you might automatically think of hot flashes and mood swings. While a drop in estrogen (which occurs during menopause) certainly causes these symptoms, another notable change many women experience during menopause is weight gain. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, women gain an average of five pounds during menopause. Some women might gain as much as 15 to 25 pounds.
Learning how to fight potential weight gain now can make it easier to maintain your body weight for overall better health.
How Menopause Causes Weight Gain
Menopause marks significant changes: not only do your periods finally stop, but you’re also not capable of having children because your body doesn’t release the same amount of estrogen as it once did.
It’s important to note that menopause-related weight gain doesn’t happen overnight. In other words, you won’t suddenly gain 10 pounds after your periods stop. Rather, the weight gain is more gradual. Dr. Carolyn Ross estimates that most women gain a pound per year. Poor lifestyle habits and other factors can make this number even higher.
Other Causes of Weight Gain
While weight gain may be attributed to menopause, other factors can increase the total amount gained. For instance, you might notice more weight maintenance issues:
- under times of stress
- when you don’t get enough sleep
- during family changes (such as children leaving the nest, or a divorce)
- with job or relationship issues
- when quitting smoking
- while consuming alcohol frequently
- while taking certain medications (such as antidepressants)
Genetics can also play a role. If your mother battled her weight during menopause, then chances are you might go through the same ordeal.
Age itself presents a lot of changes when it comes to weight. Once you hit your 30s, your metabolism slows down. During this time, you may find it harder to maintain your weight.
Unfortunately, the circumstances only make it harder as you reach your 40s and 50s. This is because muscle mass naturally decreases, while body fat can increase. Without muscle mass, your body doesn’t metabolize calories as efficiently. This can lead to unwanted weight gain. So menopause can lead to weight gain, but it isn’t the only cause during this life stage.