Fraser: Menopausal women have hard time losing weight

The Saratogian

Saratoga, NY

Since menopause I have gained weight. How can I get this under control?

By MARCIE FRASER

Published: Monday, July 6, 2009

During menopause transition, maintaining your usual weight becomes more difficult. Weight gained after menopause seems to be harder to lose and the inches tend to accumulate around your abdomen, rather than your hips and thighs.

For most women, increases in weight begin during perimenopause. A study found that women gain an average of 12 to 15 pounds during this phase of life, and the body transitions from pear-shaped to apple-shaped. There is also a 5 percent decrease in metabolic rate per decade. Why?

Some researchers say hormones. In menopause, estrogen levels decline rapidly and you stop ovulating. As your ovaries produce less estrogen, your body looks for other places to get needed estrogen. Fat cells in your body can produce estrogen, so your body works harder to convert calories into fat to increase estrogen levels.

Unfortunately, fat cells don’t burn calories the way muscle cells do, which causes you to pack on the unwanted pounds. The hormone progesterone will also decrease. Water weight and bloating are caused by decreased progesterone levels.

Though this doesn’t result in weight gain, your clothes will probably feel a bit tighter and you may feel a bit heavier.

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Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.