Weight gain is usually related to aging which is why it is difficult for many women to maintain their usual weight as they get older. Many women notice that they begin gaining weight during perimenopause which can begin up to a decade prior to menopause.
Several factors play a key role in weight gain during perimenopause:
- Hormone fluctuations. Elevated and very low estrogen can lead to increased fat storage.
- Loss of muscle mass. Increased age, hormonal changes, and decreased physical activity all lead to loss of muscle mass and weight gain.
- Inadequate sleep. Many women have trouble sleeping during perimenopause and poor sleep is related to excess weight gain over time. These sleep disturbances can be related to the underlying hormonal changes or simply from night sweats.
- Increased insulin resistance. Many women can become insulin resistant as they age, making it more difficult for them to lose weight.
All of these changes related to the menopause transition are common and may affect a woman’s ability to adhere to a healthy diet and regular exercise program.
Menopause-related weight gain can lead to serious health implications such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, breathing problems and various types of cancer, including breast, colon and endometrial cancer. Regular exercise and a healthy diet are recommended to lower the risks of these diseases.