Menopause triggers a woman’s body to produce less estrogen, usually significantly less, since the hormone won’t be needed for reproduction anymore. This loss of estrogen is the underlying cause of many physical and emotional changes we commonly associate with menopause. Along with symptoms such as vaginal atrophy, urinary incontinence and more frequent urinary tract or bladder infections, menopause can make it harder to lose or maintain your ideal weight.
How Menopause Affects Weight
Menopause itself does not cause weight gain. However, as you enter and go through menopause, the drop in estrogen can result in increased fat, especially in the abdomen. So you may develop a belly pooch thanks to a shift in weight distribution as well as an actual weight increase.
Belly fat is not only frustrating, increased abdominal fat in middle-aged and older women can increase risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Other Factors Affect Weight in Middle-Aged Women
The real culprit is your metabolism, which slows as estrogen levels decrease during and after menopause. Decreased metabolism means your body digests food more slowly, so you need fewer calories to maintain your usual energy level. If you keep eating the same amounts and types of foods you ate earlier in life, you are quite likely to gain weight.
As you get older, your body also naturally loses muscle tone and mass, which can make it harder to maintain your previously trim contours. Your lifestyle affects weight gain, too. Perhaps surprisingly, that includes how much sleep you get. Hot flashes and night sweats that often affect menopausal women can easily interrupt your sleep. A 2017 study in animals revealed a link between weight gain and lack of sleep.
You Can Take It in Stride, or You Can Take Action
Weight gain (and difficulty losing it) isn’t the only unwanted result of menopause. Vaginal atrophy can lead to dryness, itching, burning, pain or loss of sensation during intercourse and discharge. As mentioned earlier, menopause also increases risk of UTIs and stress urinary incontinence. Together, these symptoms can take a depressing toll on your physical and psychological well-bring.
Hormone replacement therapy has been shown to help reduce the likelihood of abdominal weight gain in post-menopausal women. Replacing lost estrogen can also reverse or greatly improve the full range of other vaginal and urinary tract symptoms. However, hormone replacement is also associated with unrelated health risks which can be serious, so many women are hesitant to choose this solution.
Eating a healthy diet and getting more exercise can not only help you lose that post-menopausal weight and strengthen and tone your muscles, it can improve your health across the board, helping you feel younger and more energized.
Prioritizing healthy sleep patterns can also help you maintain a stable weight rather than gaining. You’ll feel less stressed, too. And speaking of stress, some experts recommend activities such as yoga to reduce stress-induced tendencies to eat too much or unhealthy foods.
Treat Yourself to More Comprehensive Treatment
MonaLisa Touch laser vaginal therapy can help you achieve more holistic results. While avoiding weight gain is a great goal, getting rid of the myriad vaginal symptoms collectively known as genitourinary syndrome of menopause (GSM) can truly give you your life back.
This simple, quick, virtually painless in-office treatment can dramatically improve the vaginal area internally and externally, producing healthier, firmer tissue, replenishing hydration and lubrication and restoring naturally acidic pH to fight off infections. It takes just three 5-minute MonaLisa Touch treatments to achieve optimal results – results our patients describe as “amazing!”
When you feel better about yourself as a woman, just think how inspired you will feel to eat right, exercise more and get plenty of restorative sleep!