Weight Gain In Menopause

Many women put on weight when they approach and reach menopause. Declining levels of oestrogen affect your ability to process fat and slow your metabolism and you may find that you are more susceptible to weight gain; a lack of oestrogen can also affect the distribution of fat and you may find that your weight gain is more noticeable in some areas than others, usually around the waist. Menopause can also cause increased levels of cortisol, which increases the chances of fat collecting around the stomach.

Gaining weight can affect confidence and self-esteem at a time when many women already feel anxious and not quite themselves.

Tips for coping with weight gain

If you put weight on, it can be tempting to try and get rid of it as fast as possible, but it's best to avoid fad diets and instead, lose weight gradually by exercising regularly and eating a balanced, calorie-controlled diet; losing weight in this way will increase your chances of keeping weight off and putting more weight on further down the line. There are lots of different activities you can try from hiking, cycling and aqua aerobics, to golf, tennis, swimming and dancing. If you don't feel comfortable exercising around other people, try doing a workout DVD at home. You can use an app on your phone or tablet or an online resource to keep track of your calorie intake and the amount of calories you have burned during exercise.

The menopause marks the end of menstruation in women, which means that the ovaries no longer release eggs and it becomes almost impossible to conceive. The average age for menopause in the UK is 51; however, the age a woman goes through menopause can vary significantly; if symptoms begin before the age of 40, this is known as premature menopause. This guide will provide a comprehensive insight into menopause and discuss the causes and symptoms, as well as providing information about treatments, coping techniques and what to expect when you go through the menopause or you live with somebody who is experiencing menopausal symptoms.

The menstrual cycle

In order to gain a better understanding of the menopause and what it is, it's beneficial to have a look at the menstrual cycle and how it works. The menstrual cycle usually begins around the age of 10-15 years old and it involves a series of changes within the body, which help to make pregnancy possible. The cycle usually lasts 28 days and it runs from the first day of your last period to the first day of your next period.

On the first day of your period, the lining of the uterus (the womb), which is known as the endometrium, starts to break down and this causes you to bleed. It is normal to bleed for 4-6 days and this is commonly referred to as having your period. Some people don't struggle with their periods, but it is common to experience cramping and aches in your pelvis and pain in your lower back; some people also feel more emotional and irritable during their periods. Once bleeding has stopped, the next stage of the cycle begins and this is known as the follicular phase; at this stage, the ovary is preparing to release an egg. The last five days of this stage, combined with the ovulation day, the day the egg is actually released, is when you are at your most fertile and it can be beneficial to keep track of your cycle if you are trying to conceive.

The day you ovulate marks the start of the third and final part of the cycle; this is known as the luteal phase. If the egg that is released by the ovaries is fertilised, pregnancy is possible; if the egg is not fertilised, the lining of the uterus is shed and the cycle begins again. Some people experience cramps and spotting (light bleeding) during this phase.

The cycle goes on continuously until perimenopause, which is the period that precedes the menopause. This stage can last between 2 and 8 years and is characterised by irregular cycles, which result from changing levels of hormones.

What happens when the menopause occurs?

The menopause can have various effects on women and it may affect people in different ways. It is common to experience both physical and mental symptoms and it can be a very trying and confusing time due to changing hormone levels. The menopause occurs when the ovaries stop releasing eggs and this brings the menstrual cycle to a close. It can take several years to go through the complete processes of perimenopause and menopause.

Living with menopause

Some women struggle with the menopause and it's perfectly normal to go through really difficult stages, especially if you have very noticeable symptoms and they start to affect your day to day life. There are treatments available, which can help to ease symptoms and make life easier and there is also a great deal of support and advice available from organisations and charities, as well as through your GP.

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