It is common for women experiencing menopause to gain weight, especially around the abdomen. It is believed that hormonal changes are to blame for this although the exact reasons are still not understood or explained.
During the aging process, muscle bulk decreases while the metabolism slows down. Changes such as these can contribute to weight gain during the menopausal process. There are additional physical changes such as loss of libido, vaginal dryness and increased or decreased hair growth.
It is thought that one reason for weight gain during the menopause could be the distribution of fat which may be influenced by estrogen, the female sex hormone responsible for ovulation. Studies in animals have also shown a lack of oestrogen can lead to excessive weight gain.
Various studies have proved weight gain is not linked to hormone replacement therapy. Those women who are prone to gaining weight during their middle years will still do so regardless of their Hormone therapy use.
Symptoms at the start of treatment such as bloating and breast fullness may be experienced but confused with weight gain. Once the Hormone Therapy doses are modified to suit the individual, the symptoms usually disappear.
There is also an increased risk of cardiovascular disease which may also be due to the postmenopausal tendency for gaining weight around the abdomen. Body fat can be stored in the abdomen wall and around the internal organs and is a risk factor for the development for cardiovascular disease.
This risk may be reduced by Hormone therapy which prevents the shift in body fat distribution to the abdomen. In addition to this replacement oestrogen boosts good blood cholesterol. it also decreases the bad blood cholesterol thus decreasing the chances of cardiovascular disease.
Other factors, apart from declining estrogen levels may contribute to weight gain following the menopause include the loss of muscle tissue due to age, a lowered metabolism, a reduction in physical activity or altered eating habits, such as eating out more often.
You should try to manage your weight gain by eating a low fat, high fibre diet, having regular exercises (at least 30 minutes everyday) to boost the metabolism. You should build and maintain you muscle mass with strength training exercises such as walking and cycling. It is always advisable to consult your doctor before undertaking a new regime.