Weight Gain and Weight Loss
Nearly all the major physical changes in a woman’s life are accompanied by fluctuations in weight, some of these more noticeable than others. For example, during puberty and menopause, a woman's body can change shape quite drastically, both with weight gain and weight loss.
These are both times of great hormonal changes that affect the functioning of the female sex organs. Puberty is the time when the female sex organs are activated and in menopause, ovulation ceases and the levels of estrogen dramatically decrease. Basically, during puberty a woman becomes fertile and able to have children and during menopause, this function ceases as ovulation and periods become less frequent until they stop altogether.
Weight Gain and Menopause
It is quite usual for a woman to gain weight both before and during the Menopause. Research has shown that the main reason for weight gain during the Menopause is because of the hormonal changes that are taking place. This is true for younger women passing through puberty and older women traversing menopause.
During puberty, the levels of estrogen are rising as ovulation begins. During menopause, estrogen levels are falling as ovulation starts to decrease and then cease. Do not be surprised if your shape and weight makes extreme gains or losses during these times of great physical change.
When does Menopause Weight Gain Start?
Anywhere up to 90% of women before, during and after menopause, can expect to gain weight and this often starts in the months or years before Menopause. Women often find that they put on a few pounds of weight slowly in the years leading up to menopause. During menopause, weight gain can be anywhere from a few pounds to 15 pounds or more.
Weight gain during menopause usually occurs on the stomach, around the hips, on the thighs and the rear. It is a natural occurrence. Using herbs and a wholesome, a healthy diet and attention to regular, gentle exercise can help with some of these transitions and help you to regain a balance to your weight and shape.
Hormones & Weight Gain
Hormones are chemicals that are made in the body that have a direct impact on your weight. Hormones also help with your ability to process fat and they assist with all the processes that occur when food is converted to energy – or metabolism as it is called. The weight you gain in menopause is directly related to the hormonal changes that you experience during menopause. Click here to see more information on different types of fat in food.
The link between Weight Gain in Menopause and Estrogen
Estrogen levels in the body start to decline in early or pre-menopause, which is the cause of irregular periods at this time as estrogen is responsible for ovulation. A link has now been firmly established between levels of Estrogen in the body and weight gain that many women experience at this time. This hormone is mainly made in the ovaries, but as estrogen production declines in the ovaries during menopause, the body attempts to make more elsewhere. Read on...
Estrogen is made in several places within the female body such as in the ovaries, in the placenta during pregnancy and in lesser amounts in the adrenal glands which lie above the kidneys and in the body’s fat cells. Most of the estrogen is made in the ovaries.
A decline in the amount of estrogen produced by the ovaries often signals the start of early menopause. In order to compensate for this, the body starts to produce more fat cells to help maintain the levels of estrogen. The body's internal systems to convert energy into fat cells in an attempt to increase estrogen levels. However, it is an unfortunate fact that fat cells do not burn energy or calories at the same rate that muscle cells do. It is much lower. The consequences of this is that additional weight (fat) can build up and hence weight gain often becomes excessive.
Weight Loss during Menopause
Not all women experience weight gain during menopause, in fact, some experience the opposite; weight loss. While it is not as usual to experience this as weight gain during the change of life, it does happen and is also considered quite a normal part of the change of life. Finding out about the changes you can experience during the change of life can make it easier to experience and keep you more in charge of your body’s needs.
If you do want to lose some weight, it doesn't have to be boring. You can eat more than just lettuce or cottage cheese :-) There are plenty of useful articles on this site and elsewhere to give you some ideas.
Extreme Weight Gain & Extreme Weight Loss
There can be exceptions to the normal amounts of weight gain and weight loss a woman experiences during the change of life. If larger than usual or expected weight gains or weight losses occur over a period of time during menopause, then it is recommended to consult with a professional health practitioner. While weight fluctuations are considered a usual part of menopause, you should at the same time, keep a record of your weight changes for your own health’s sake, so you can monitor this and stay on top of extreme changes.