Managing Your Weight During Menopause

Weight Loss and Menopause, Allurion Program

Menopause affects half the world’s population at some stage in their lives. Yet there is little discussion about its impact on day-to-day lives. Perhaps you are undergoing menopause yourself, or you know someone who is currently in menopause. 

Healthy lifestyle changes – including effective weight management – can help ease the burden of menopause for millions of women every day. In this article, we talk about how menopause affects weight, how weight loss can help with menopausal symptoms and how the Allurion Programme can help you with losing weight.
 

What is menopause?

Menopause is a natural stage of life – most woman experience it. It’s when her periods stop, meaning her ovaries are no longer releasing eggs and she can no longer get pregnant naturally.1 But it doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a gradual transition that for some women can take many years.1  

Three main stages broadly make up what we call menopause:2,3 

  • Perimenopause: These are the years before menopause, when periods may become irregular, and symptoms start setting in. It’s a transition phase and there is no set timeline in terms of when it starts or how long it lasts before the menstrual cycle stops altogether. 

  • Menopause: A woman is in menopause when she has not had a period for 12 months. 

  • Postmenopause: This is the time after a woman’s periods have stopped. Symptoms may have eased or have even stopped, but, again, it differs from person to person.

What causes menopause?  

Menopause is a natural part of ageing. As a woman gets older, the balance in her hormone levels changes.1 The ovaries produce less of the hormone estrogen, which in turn means her ovaries release fewer eggs as part of the menstrual cycle. Eventually, the ovaries stop releasing eggs altogether, which means the body also stops having a period.1 After 12 months without a period, a woman is technically in menopause.3 

When does menopause happen? 

Menopause usually happens between the ages of 45 and 55 as estrogen levels fall, but there are no hard and fast rules. 

About 1 in 100 women experience early menopause, often for no apparent reason. For others, it’s brought on by ovarian surgery, cancer treatment or an underlying health condition.

Regardless, perimenopause can last a few months or many years. One in 10 women experience the symptoms of menopause for up to 12 years.
 

What’s the connection between menopause and weight? 

Firstly, it’s helpful to point out that, on average, people tend to experience weight gain as they get older. Our body composition changes too. From the age of 30, muscle mass in the body tends to decrease 3-8% every decade – this is, of course, on average and there are ways to prevent and minimize these changes. They’re not inevitable.5   

Why is this important? Because as muscle decreases over time, our bodies tend to have more fat. More fat and less muscle mean less muscle strength – and that’s bad news if our activity levels and our diets aren’t adjusted as we get older to offset these changes. In short, less muscle mass means fewer calories are needed each day to power the body.6,7,8 
 

For women, this tendency for weight to increase during midlife coincides with menopause – and often also a decrease in day-to-day exercise and activity levels as life slows down or lifestyles change.

Estrogen usually helps to regulate the body’s hunger signals, helping to regulate food intake. During menopause, changing estrogen levels mean that this regulation is less effective, leading to stronger hunger signals and in turn, likely increase in food intake. This can all ultimately lead to weight gain.10 

In addition, studies show that the hormonal changes that start with perimenopause also – and separately – contribute to increased storage of fat around the abdominal area.10 

It’s little surprise, then, that a recent poll found that weight gain is the no.1 concern for many women when to comes to menopause.11