For the average woman, menopause occurs around the age of 52. The ovaries stop releasing an egg each month, hormone levels drop, and monthly bleeding stops. For some, menopause can mean body changes like hot flashes, mood swings, sexual dysfunction, and weight gain. This last change is one of those that causes more obsession in women at this stage, so weight management will be essential for women who seek to maintain a balanced weight.

Weight management during and after menopause

Menopause occurs when a woman stops ovulating and her monthly period (menstruation) stops. As women age into their 40s and 50s, there is a tendency to gain weight. This can be influenced by lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise.

The increased distribution of abdominal fat is related to hormonal changes in perimenopause. Excess weight in middle age is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Understanding what happens during this transition makes it easier to manage changes. In this article we will focus on weight management. Why weight gain occurs during and after menopause.

What Causes Weight Gain in Perimenopause and Menopause

Several factors influence weight gain during menopause :

Reduced estrogen levels

Sex hormones like estrogen are critical regulators of food intake and body weight. With lower estrogen levels, women may be eating more and becoming less physically active. Metabolism can slow, increasing fat storage.

Composition and body fat

Women generally have a higher fat-to-muscle ratio than men. When estrogen levels drop, the body can store more fat around the waist, hips, and thighs.


Many women’s lives are busiest in their 40s and 50s, just before and during menopause. The body can interpret this busy time as stress and produce higher levels of the important hormone cortisol. And that can lead to increased appetite and calorie retention, and belly fat.

Weight control

Menopause is a time to reflect. Take some time to consider how this new beginning looks for you and what you hope to achieve, but always do it from an area that does not generate stress, and instead, focus on the advantages that maintaining a balanced weight will bring you, because after all, that is equivalent to good health.


The more active you are, the less weight you are likely to gain. A review by the National Institutes of Health showed that people who performed aerobic activities every day for 10 minutes or more had six inches shorter around the waist compared to people who did not exercise. Go for a walk, squat, train, and stretch. Or find exercises that suit you and that you can stick with.

Eat well

The first step is to eat the right foods in the correct amounts on a regular basis: breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, and dinner. Women often try to cut back on food in an attempt to lose weight, which can make things worse. Good nutrition will give your body the fuel it needs.

Increase lean protein while cutting out processed sugar and reducing carbohydrates to help control weight.

Practice good stress management

Stress is part of life. It will not go away during menopause. Some believe that walking in nature may be the best way to manage stress and lower your cortisol level (rather than going for a run, which actually increases your cortisol).

For others, talking to a medical or mental health professional may be helpful. But everyone should take the time to find the best ways to manage their stress. Some methods to consider:

  • Increase your spiritual connection
  • Find extra help at home
  • Meditate (you can find meditation videos on YouTube)
  • Keep a thank you journal
  • Plan time each day for self-care
  • Learn to say “no”

Celebrate your life and your body

Give yourself and your body a break. Remember, your hormones have changed. This is a new milestone like others you have passed. Celebrate who you are now and love your ever-changing body by following a healthy lifestyle. That may be all you need to do.

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses.He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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