I have a girlfriend who was diagnosed with premature menopause two years ago say to me she has put on weight “it just seems to creep up on me – I didn’t even notice it happening.” I haven’t put on weight as such, BUT, I do find I have to work out much harder to maintain my current weight. The question is; will young menopausal women experience weight gain just as older menopause women do?
Weight gain during menopause is a hotly contested debate, with some suggesting women do not put on weight due to menopause rather due to natural ageing and sedentary lifestyles that comes with getting older. But what about us women who are not at midlife but have noticed our shape changing – and not because we are eating more? I along with my girlfriends would argue the opposite is in fact true. In my research I came across this informative article which I will share with you on weight gain during early menopause. You can find the link to the full article at the end of this article.
Confronting the reality of weight gain & menopause
You’ve gained a few pounds.. Your body looks different. You’re noticing a new, very annoying, roundness to your tummy. Your waistline seems to have disappeared. The scale is becoming your enemy… yet you’re not doing anything differently than you used to. You might find yourself asking: What is going on?!
Let’s start with something that drives me — and many other women in early or premature menopause — crazy: Many books and articles insist that women put on weight during menopause because they’re older.
It’s not a function of menopause, they argue. It’s a function of ageing. Your metabolic rate drops as you age, which accounts for the weight gain. In addition, older women are often more inactive.
Well, maybe this applies to the average woman in menopause who is in her 50s. But what if you’re in your 20s or 30s — and you start noticing the creeping weight gain and new thicker body contours? I know I did….and dozens of prematurely menopausal women I’ve spoken with have seen it happen to them as well.
We’re not middle-aged. We’re still young. So, regardless of what the books say, it can’t be age that causes these changes. And it isn’t. It’s your hormones, plain and simple.
Okay, so these changes aren’t life-threatening… but they do affect your self-confidence at a time when you least need it. They also affect older women in menopause, of course. But, in truth, it’s often worse for women in premature menopause.
The biggest difference? When you’re going through this in your 20s or 30s, the changes in your appearance are often more apparent than the changes an older woman in menopause goes through (especially to you), simply because most other women your age aren’t experiencing the same thing.
Other women in their 20s and 30s aren’t getting the so-called “middle-aged spread” that women in their 50s experience, but you may be.
Why is this happening?
As I said before, most of this is due to your hormone levels. Lower levels of oestrogen may cause a variety of physical side effects.
Low Oestrogen And Weight Gain
1.First, because oestrogen is stored in fat, many researchers believe that, when you enter menopause — whether naturally or through surgery, your body responds by holding on to fat cells in an effort to boost the lagging oestrogen levels.
The result? It’s tougher to lose fat and much easier to keep the pounds on.
2.Second, as oestrogen levels drop, your level of androgens — the so-called “male” sex hormone — increases in relation to the oestrogen.
Unopposed by the higher levels of estrogen your body used to have, the androgens may produce male characteristics — in this case, the shift in body fat from your hips, thighs and buttocks to your midsection, resulting in the “apple” shape that is more common in men and in postmenopausal women (which, incidentally, may also be linked with an increased risk of heart disease).
3.Third, low oestrogen levels affect the production of collagen — which results in drier, thinner skin. It may also lead to a saggy appearance, and lack of muscle tone — all of which contributes to a change in your body shape.
Low progesterone levels in relation to oestrogen (which is popularly called “oestrogen dominance”) also causes a number of side effects. Among the more common ones: increased bloating and water retention — which may not be actual fat, but makes you look heavier, and blood sugar fluctuations — which can increase your appetite and slow your metabolism.
Finally, there’s the mood connection. As you know, fluctuating or declining hormone levels can cause mood swings, depression and anxiety. This is because the levels of serotonin and endorphins in your brain apparently drop in the face of fluctuating hormones.
What raises serotonin levels in your brain? Certain foods, like chocolates. Often, when you go through premature menopause, you notice you have food cravings — much like you did when you had premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
But unlike PMS, your hormones don’t bounce back to regular levels, so you may have food cravings longer than in the past… and, unfortunately, cave in and eat more of the foods you shouldn’t, like calorie-dense treats, salty snacks and sweets.
So that’s the bad news. But all is most definitely not lost! There are three very basic things you can do to help fight the changes in your body brought on by changing hormone levels:
♥Boost your hormone levels through HRT or through dietary supplements such as phytoestrogens.
It’s a simple prescription without doubt — but it’s one that can make a big difference!
We’d love to hear your thoughts.
Adapted from The Premature Menopause Book, by Kathryn Petras. Edited by earlymenopause.com