What Is Premenopause & How Does It Affect Your Weight Gain?
During her life, a woman experiences many hormone fluctuations that affect her fertility. When she starts her period, she can potentially conceive a child.
As she gets older, her reproductive hormone levels drop and eventually cease, leading to what is known as menopause.
Menopause is when the ovaries stop making estrogen and other sex hormones, causing a woman to have no periods for 12 consecutive months.
Table Of Contents
- Causes of Early Menopause
- Symptoms of Early Menopause
- What Causes Menopause Weight Gain?
- 5 Best Ways to Prevent Weight Gain After Menopause
Although other parts of the body will still make these hormones, their levels decrease significantly during menopause. Hormone levels do not usually decrease overnight, however.
Instead, a woman enters a phase of her reproductive life known as perimenopause, where her hormone levels start to decrease. This phase causes symptoms and signs that menopause may occur in the next year or years.
Pre Menopause and perimenopause are similar terms that are sometimes used in place of each other. The term pre means before and peri means surrounding or near. Technically, a woman is in pre Menopause anytime before she enters menopause.
Some doctors refer to pre menopause as the time between a woman’s first and last period. For this reason, the term perimenopause may more accurately describe when a woman is close to menopause, as it implies a decrease in hormone levels.
Causes of Early Menopause
There are several known causes of early menopause, although sometimes the cause can’t be determined.
If there is no obvious medical reason for early menopause, the cause is likely genetic. Your age at menopause onset is likely inherited.
Knowing when your mother started menopause can provide clues about when you will start your own. If your mother started menopause early, you are more likely than average to do the same.
2. Lifestyle Factors
There are some lifestyle factors that may have an impact on when you begin menopause. Smoking has anti estrogen effects that can contribute to early menopause.
Studies suggest that long-term or regular smokers are likely to experience menopause sooner.
3. Body Mass Index (BMI)
Body Mass Index can also be one of the factor that contributes to early menopause. Estrogen is stored in fat tissue.
Women who are very thin have fewer estrogen stores, which can be depleted sooner.
Some research also suggests that a vegetarian diet, lack of exercise, and lack of sun exposure throughout your life can all cause early onset of menopause.
4. Chromosome Defects
Some chromosomal defects can lead to early menopause. For example, Turner Syndrome (also called monosomy X and gonadal dysgenesis) involves being born with an incomplete chromosome.
Women with Turner Syndrome have ovaries that don’t function properly. This often causes them to enter menopause prematurely.
5. Autoimmune Diseases
Premature menopause can be a symptom of an autoimmune disease such as thyroid disease and rheumatoid arthritis.
In autoimmune diseases, the immune system mistakes a part of the body for an invader and attacks it. Inflammation caused by some of these diseases can affect the ovaries. Menopause begins when the ovaries stop working.
Epilepsy is a seizure disorder that stems from the brain. Women with epilepsy are more likely to experience premature ovarian failure, which leads to menopause.
What are the Symptoms of Early Menopause?
Early menopause can begin as soon as you start having irregular periods or periods that are noticeably longer or shorter than normal. Other symptoms of early menopause include:
- Heavy bleeding
- Periods that last longer than a week
- A period after a year of no bleeding
In these cases, see your doctor to check for any other issues that might be causing these symptoms. Other common symptoms of menopause include:
- Changes in sexual feelings or desire
- Vaginal dryness
What Causes Menopause Weight Gain?
The hormonal changes of menopause might make you more likely to gain weight around your abdomen than around your hips and thighs. But, hormonal changes alone don’t necessarily cause menopause weight gain. Instead, the weight gain is usually related to aging, as well as lifestyle and genetic factors.
Genetic factors also might play a role in menopause weight gain. If your parents or other close relatives carry extra weight around the abdomen, you’re likely to do the same.
Other factors, such as a lack of exercise, unhealthy eating and not enough sleep, might contribute to menopause weight gain. When people don’t get enough sleep, they tend to snack more and consume more calories.
Weight gain can have serious implications for your health. Excess weight increases the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, breathing problems and various types of cancer, including breast, colon and endometrial cancer.
5 Best Ways to Prevent Weight Gain After Menopause
There is no magic formula for preventing — or reversing — menopause weight gain. Simply stick to weight-control basics:
1. Remain Active
Aerobic activity can help you shed excess pounds and maintain a healthy weight. Strength training counts, too. As you gain muscle, your body burns calories more efficiently — which makes it easier to control your weight.
For most healthy adults, experts recommend moderate aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, for at least 150 minutes a week or vigorous aerobic activity, such as jogging, for at least 75 minutes a week.
In addition, strength training exercises are recommended at least twice a week. If you want to lose weight or meet specific fitness goals, you might need to exercise more.
3. Watch What You Eat
To reduce calories without skimping on nutrition, pay attention to what you’re eating and drinking. Choose more fruits, vegetables and whole grains, particularly those that are less processed and contain more fiber.
4. Check That Sweet Tooth
Added sugars account for nearly 300 or 400 calories a day . About half of these calories come from sugar-sweetened beverages, such as soft drinks, juices, energy drinks, flavored waters, and sweetened coffee tea.
5. Limit Alcohol
Alcoholic beverages add excess calories to your diet and increase the risk of gaining weight.
6. Seek Support
Surround yourself with friends and loved ones who support your efforts to eat a healthy diet and increase your physical activity. Better yet, team up and make the lifestyle changes together.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can menopause cause weight gain and bloating?
Bloating, especially caused by water retention in the body can lead to weight gain. Bloating due to menopause is usually accompanied by swollen belly and discomfort.
Can you lose weight during menopause?
It is not a great idea to try to lose weight during menopause. Give it some time and then start your weight loss program.
What is the best diet for perimenopause?
You should feed your body with calcium rich food during perimenopause. Increase your intake of iron, fiber, fruits, vegetables, etc. Keep yourself hydrated. Cut back on sugar and high fat foods.
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