Menopause & Weight Management – Part 1 – Hormones

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Menopause & Weight Management – the role of fluctuating female hormones

Almost all women going through menopause and perimenopause will experience a change in their body shape. In the first of a series of blogs on Weight Management, we look at the role that fluctuating hormones play in this important aspect of menopause health.

There are several important factors which play a significant role in weight management and a change of body shape:

Effects of estrogen on body fat composition:

Estrogen receptors are found everywhere in our body. From our brain cells to our gut, bones, skin, eyes and beyond.

At perimenopause (the time prior to menopause) our body starts to recognise that the main female hormone, estrogen, which is mainly produced by the ovaries has started to decline.

Our body responds to this decline by helping fat cells to produce estrogen. And so, the cravings for unhealthy fats and sugars start. This can increase the fat deposition around the abdomen and the internal organs (visceral fat), and a compensatory production line for estrogen is formulated.

Effects of estrogen and progesterone on sleep and joints:

Sleep is an important player in weight management. Lack of estrogen which can result in hot flushes and night sweats can disrupt sleep as well as disrupting melatonin (sleep hormone). This can cause rising cortisol levels which can result in early waking and food cravings.

Progesterone is normally released mid-cycle after ovulation has occurred. It has sedative properties as well as being important in estrogen uptake by receptors.

Progesterone is one of the first hormones which is reduced during perimenopause. This is because women start having more and more “anovulatory” cycles anytime from late 30s/early 40s onwards.

Joint aches and muscular pain are common symptoms (peri)menopausal women complain about. This is because of declining female hormones, estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. This results in reduction in physical activity and as we know exercise is important not only for weight management but also for psychological wellbeing and general health.

Effects of testosterone on baseline metabolism:

Commonly known as the “male” hormone, testosterone is an important female hormone. The ovarian production of testosterone is reduced at (peri)menopause, and this can lead to a reduction in muscle mass and energy levels.

With a reduction in muscle mass, the baseline metabolism is considerably reduced and so even though women may be consuming the same number of calories as before, but this will result in weight gain.

In our next blog, we’ll focus on the role of genetics and hunger hormones play in weight management.

If you’re struggling with symptoms of weight management and body shape through perimenopause and menopause and would like to find out how OMC’s personalised treatment plans can help you, get in touch via our Contact page or Book a consultation with an experienced menopause doctor here.