24/07/2021 / Gynecology and Motherhood
In females, Menopause is a stage when the production of reproductive hormones (estrogen and progesterone) decreases, which is the last phase of their menstrual life. It usually occurs around the age of 40s or early 50s, but it widely varies. In simple terms, the absence of a menstrual period for about a year is termed Menopause. Females are no longer able to conceive after the menopausal phase.
During the Menopausal stage, women undergo various changes internally as well as externally. One of the changes you might have seen during this phase is the weight gain that eventually occurs at a faster pace. However, it is not only due to hormonal disturbance; diets and routines also become one of the leading factors behind these changes.
The hormonal changes in a woman’s life occur at four different periods. These are:
1. Premenopause: This is the fertility period of a woman's life which lasts for about 30-40 years. It starts with the first period and ends at last.
2. Perimenopause: This is the period around Menopause in which the estrogen level increases and progesterone levels decrease.
3. Menopause: When a woman does not have a period continuously for a year, then it is termed as Menopause. It usually occurs in the early 50s.
4. Postmenopause: The immediate period after the cessation of the menstruation cycle is called Postmenopause.
The transitional period between the Perimenopause stage to Menopause can last for about two to eight years. During this time, periods can stop and then start again. It usually begins when a woman reaches her late 40s. Usually, this stage is accompanied by some symptoms through which a lady can detect that her Menopausal phase is coming near. These symptoms are:
1. Change in sexual drive
3. Frequent urge to urinate
4. Hot flashes
5. Sweating at the night time
6. Mood swings
7. Weight gain
Most women during the Menopausal age face weight gaining problems, but there is no one particular reason that results in increased weight during this stage. Along with the internal hormonal changes that occur within a body, some other factors can also cause an increase in weight. These are as follows:
Hormonal disturbance, particularly estrogen, leads to weight gain in the menopausal stage. Due to the low production of estrogen in perimenopause or the initial period of Menopause, the body will start to deposit fat cells around the abdominal region that causes weight gain during the menopause phase.
The Estrogen Hormone: It is one of the primary sex hormones in a woman. Its role is to determine a female's physical sex characteristics, regulate the menstrual cycle, maintain bone health, and regulate the level of cholesterol. At the time of Menopause, a significant reduction in the level of estrogen hormone is observed. Low estrogen levels do not directly cause gain in weight, but they can cause an increase in the total fat of a female body.
Decreased production of Progesterone hormone could also be the indirect cause of weight gain as both the hormones work simultaneously.
The routine and diet of a female also play an essential role in regulating the body's overall system. Follow an unhealthy diet with no or less physical activity. The fat will start accumulating around your belly, which will add an excessive amount of fat to the cells, and it will put extra pounds within your body.
It is expected that as age increases, our muscle mass starts getting reduced as the body metabolism is no more efficient. In addition, it will change the body structure as the cells will start deposition of more fat around the belly. Therefore, age is considered as one of the essential factors of weight gain during this phase.
In most cases, our genes are responsible for various processes that involve our body's appearance. So, if your elders had the genes that could lead to weight gain, it is most likely that you also face obesity in your middle-age. However, this can be avoided by performing rigorous physical activities in the late 20s.
Other factors result in weight gain during your menopausal age, like not getting enough rest, following an unhealthy lifestyle, more stress, often eating junk food, consuming toxic substances like alcohol or other beverages containing more sweetening agents, etc.
We often neglect some other typical day-to-day activities, believing that hormonal abnormalities will be the leading cause behind this. But, if you see, there are women around you who lose their weight extensively at this age by just changing the whole lifestyle.
As we grow old, our metabolism gets slower, resulting in a decreased muscle mass. These changes can cause weight gain around the time of Menopause.
Other bodily changes associated with the advent of Menopause are:
1. Changes in the skin such as dryness and loss of skin firmness may occur
2. Dryness in the vaginal area
3. Growth of body hair (or loss).
These changes have an adverse effect on self-esteem and body image, increasing the risk of sexual difficulties and depression. Therefore, steps to manage the postmenopausal symptoms should be taken.
So here is the big question: Can this abnormal weight gain lead to any severe disease or disorder in our body? The answer is: Yes, indeed. More weight gain causes risk-related diseases in older age. But at a younger age, when the body is capable of healing and performing metabolism faster, there is less chance of having these diseases as a consequence of weight gain.
As we age, the probability of getting various metabolic diseases increases because our body is no longer efficient in doing normal physiological activities at the same pace. Some major metabolic diseases are:
1. The risk of Heart attack will increase due to obesity.
2. There is a higher chance you might suffer from Type 2 Diabetes.
3. Being overweight will interrupt normal breathing that might be problematic for you in the long run.
However, you can avoid these by maintaining a healthy diet and doing more physical activities.
Even though weight gain is one of the symptoms of the menopausal stage that cannot be controlled, it doesn't mean that it is not avoidable. Still, you can lose some pounds by changing some unhealthy habits in your daily routine. But, before that, you should know what you are eating your whole day by observing your daily activity. This is not difficult as it seems, right?
For this, you need to create a diet chart and manage your day by adding some physical activities like running or even walking for 30 minutes. Other basic actions for weight-control that you can do are:
Only doing physical workouts and not changing your eating habit does not balance your weight. You must change your whole diet by including fewer carbohydrates and more fruits and vegetables in your diet.
Getting a good night’s sleep can work well, especially at your menopausal age when your cells need to do enough metabolism to synchronize your body's whole system. At least eight hours of sleep is needed every day.
Beverages like alcohol, tea, or coffee are not suitable for your body’s metabolism. Alcohol and cold drinks have extra calories that add adverse effects on your health. Tea and coffee have caffeine that can interrupt the normal physiological activities of your body. So instead of them, you should take green tea, which enhances your body’s capability of increasing the metabolic rate.
It’s hard to control weight at the menopause stage. The main factor here is hormonal disturbances that play a crucial role in the weight gaining process but adopting a new lifestyle that includes more physical exercise and less carbohydrate-containing food will work. Don't be afraid if you gain weight at your menopause phase of life. It is expected to be managed with a bit of care and effort.
Q 1.What foods should you avoid eating during your 50s?
Ans- Try to avoid junk food like pizzas, chips, or other processed foods that contain more carbohydrates. Only consume those foods that have more protein and minerals that will boost your metabolism at this age. For example, you can eat eggs, oats with lots of fruits and vegetables.
Q 2. How much weight is gained during the menopause stage?
Ans- On average, women tend to gain about 3 to 5 pounds in one year. But at their menopausal phase, the weight gain average increased up to 10 to 15 pounds a year.
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