A woman’s body goes through many changes throughout her lifetime. One of the major changes you’ll go through in later life is menopause. Surely you’ve heard stories of hot flashes and mood swings, among other symptoms. But the one thing we all dread is weight gain, which could be a symptom of menopause.
At New England Women’s Healthcare, our team can help you navigate the often uncomfortable roads of menopause. Our amazing team of doctors helps you prepare for this stage in your life, and offers several different treatments to ease your symptoms, even weight gain.
What is menopause?
Menopause marks the end of a woman’s child-bearing years, and her menstrual cycle stops completely. This change varies greatly from woman to woman, occurring from their 30s to their 60s. Menopause, and the lead-up known as perimenopause, usually take several years from start to finish.
When you go through this change in your life, you go through three separate stages: perimenopause, menopause, and post-menopause. Menopause arrives when you go without a period for 12 consecutive months.
That distinction is important, because sometimes you’ll go months without a period, only to get it again. This is common, and the reason menopause takes so many years to complete.
Symptoms of menopause
Menopause makes your body go through a lot of changes, mainly due to hormonal imbalances as your body prepares to stop bearing children. Symptoms can vary depending on the individual and their stage of menopause. Some of the key symptoms of menopause include:
- Hot flashes
- Mood swings
- Night sweats
- Decreased sex drive
One of the most unwanted side effects of menopause is weight gain. This excess weight can be hard for you to lose, no matter how much exercise you do. However, knowing your risks and tackling them early on can help you shed the pounds — or avoid them all together.
Your risk of weight gain
Unfortunately, there’s no crystal ball that can tell you if you’ll gain weight during menopause, but some factors play a role in your chances. These factors can include:
All of these factors could potentially increase your risk of putting on extra pounds. But why is weight gain so prominent around menopause? The short answer is your hormones.
During menopause, your hormones fluctuate quite a bit. In the beginning, your body makes an excess of the hormone estrogen; later on, it barely makes any at all. Decreased estrogen can lead to an increase in your appetite and fat storage in your belly area.
Weight gain around the abdominal region is linked to diseases such as insulin resistance, heart disease, and Type 2 diabetes. Sometimes, though, your hormones aren’t to blame. Weight gain during menopause can also just be a side effect of aging.
With all of these factors lining up against you, what can you do to fight off weight gain during this transitional period? Don’t lose hope. Some lifestyle changes can help you shed the pounds.
How you can fight off extra pounds
Although aging and genetics aren’t within your control, you can use strategies to decrease your risk of extra weight, and ultimately other chronic conditions.
Some of the lifestyle changes you can make during menopause to keep off excess pounds include:
- Exercise regularly
- Decrease carbohydrates
- Manage your symptoms
- Eat a few less calories
- Strengthen your muscles
Getting enough rest is also an important factor in weight gain. Try to relax and get your symptoms under control to keep yourself as healthy as possible. Adding fiber can also help you kick those extra pounds to the curb.
If you’re worried about gaining weight during menopause, and want to make a change, make an appointment with us by calling our office in Woburn, Massachusetts, at 781-787-3003. You can also request an appointment online with our booking tool.