As you approach the age 50, you may notice that your periods are becoming more sporadic or are shorter than they used to be.
This is an indication that you are approaching menopause, a natural part of aging. Perimenopause is defined as the months or years of transition before your period stops, and menopause is marked by going 12 months without having a period at the end of this transition.
In addition to your monthly period coming to an end, menopause also causes a lot of other changes for your body. Changes in your bodys hormones and rapidly shifting moods are common, and you may notice weight gain around your midsection. Some people refer to this symptom as menopause belly.
Your body shape may change without weight gain, or you may gain weight that all seems to land around your midsection. It may feel like its just inevitable to experience this belly bulge as you age, but there are actually a lot of factors that you can manage.
Belly bulge before and during menopause can be related to, and influenced by, several different things going on in your body at the same time.
As you approach menopause, the levels of estrogen in your body drop rapidly. At the same time, levels of a hormone called androgen increase. This can cause a hormonal imbalance, which in and of itself can cause weight gain.
People who have a hormonal imbalance may also experience a new level of hunger. You may also notice that youre hungry for different types of foods. Just like your periods might make you crave salty, sweet, and carb-rich foods due to hormonal shifts, menopause can do the same.
The average weight gain for women during and after menopause is around 4.5 pounds.
Bloating is a common symptom of perimenopause and menopause. Your abdomen may shift and enlarge throughout the day, depending on what youve been eating. Water retention or gas retention can be the source of this type of bloating.
This bloating is not weight gain, per se, and it might resemble bloating that youre used to from when you had your period. Once you stop getting your period, you may find that you do not experience bloating anymore.
Your body shape may change during and after menopause, and thats natural. Fat that is present on your butt and thighs may move to your belly. You may find that even though the number on the scale is not moving that much, your clothes are not fitting the way that they used to. This is connected to your diet and genetics, but its also just a consequence of the hormonal changes in your body.
Your body might look different due to menopause, and thats OK. Its still important to stay within a moderate weight range for your height and body type.
Talking with a doctor can help you figure out what a moderate weight looks like for you.
You can also consider factors like your body mass index (BMI). Keep in mind, however, that measurement tools have limits in terms of what they can tell you about your unique health circumstances. Weight loss is possible during and after menopause, if thats your goal, but it just might take a little longer than it used to.
You may be able to shift some belly bloat from menopause by switching up the way that you eat. High fat, sugar, and salt consumption are linked to excess weight gain during menopause.
A diet high in fiber and antioxidants can help decrease the oxidative stress that your body is going through during the menopause transition. Berries, nuts, kale, and even dark chocolate have antioxidant properties.
Iron-rich and calcium-dense foods can help relieve some menopausal symptoms, like changes in mood and hot flashes.
Cutting out caffeine and alcohol can also help reduce hot flashes, which may help you sleep better and, in turn, help manage your symptoms.
You should also drink as much water as you can to help your body flush out toxins and stay hydrated. A doctor may also share advice about nutritional supplements you can take during this transition.
During menopause, you might find that your energy levels are decreasing. That might make you feel like you do not want to exercise. But staying active during the menopause transition can make a huge difference in shifting weight from places that you do not want it to go.
Exercise does not have to mean an intense workout. A walk outside can get your heart rate up while also increasing your daily dose of vitamin D, which can help you lose weight.
Other low-impact workouts like yoga can help you:
Reducing stress and anxiety can curb some unhealthy eating habits. Whats more, stress can actually be part of the reason why youre experiencing belly bloat.
The first part of reducing stress is letting go of the idea of what your body is supposed to look like. Stressing out over your postmenopausal body is not helpful for losing weight in a healthy way if weight loss is your goal.
During and after menopause, focus on incorporating activities into your daily routine that reduce stress. Spending time outside, gardening, and resting often may help your hormones find their new balance. Mindfulness and meditation can also help reduce and manage menopause-related symptoms.
If you feel like excess weight from menopause is making you self-conscious, you might be curious about cosmetic procedures like liposuction and CoolSculpting.
There are also preventive steps you can take to limit how much menopause affects your body shape. Keep in mind that genetics and your prior health history play a role in how menopause affects your body, so these steps might not completely prevent some menopause belly bulge.
Menopause is a natural part of aging, and your body may look different once you have reached menopause.
Your genetics play a strong role in how noticeable these changes are, although you do have some control over how much menopause will affect your body shape.
Lifestyle factors, such as your eating patterns, your stress level, and your exercise routine can also play a role.
Menopause Belly: Causes, Solutions, and Prevention Tips - Healthline
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