Menopause occurs about a year after a woman stops menstruating. Usually, between the ages of 45-55, it marks the end of her fertile period. Hormone tests alone cannot tell when you are in menopause. But physical complaints like menopause weight gain, irregular periods, hot flashes, sweating, fatigue, headaches, and other aches are indicators. The complaints don’t stop there! Some are psychological complaints, like trouble accepting physical changes, fatigue, or apathy.
Menopause Weight Gain
The hormonal changes of menopause might make you more likely to gain weight around your abdomen than around your hips and thighs. But, hormonal changes alone don’t necessarily cause menopause weight gain. Instead, weight gain is usually related to aging, as well as lifestyle and genetic factors.
Is it hot in here?
The perimenopause transition begins several years before actual menopause. Changing levels of estrogen in your body cause normal signs of perimenopause: irregular periods, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, sleep disturbances, and mood swings.
Knowing you are in perimenopause can give you peace of mind. The doctor may be able to diagnose it. So, she will review your medical history, your menstrual history, and other signs and symptoms. In addition, a complete medical examination can reveal other problems that act like perimenopause. So ask your doctor to test for other causes of symptoms, like thyroid disease.
Your body changes in perimenopause, then at menopause, so extra attention to your health will help keep you feeling well.
Have you had surgery on your ovaries or loss of normal function of your ovaries before you are 40? This is called primary ovarian insufficiency or POI and can give you menopause-related symptoms. Lower estrogen levels can also affect your bone density. In addition, it may affect your brain and sexual functions. Early menopause means that you have become infertile before the typical menopause age of 51.
Natural menopause typically happens after 40 and before 58. And for smokers, about two years earlier than nonsmokers.
Things that seem not to affect the age at menopause are
- fertility medications
- birth control pills
- your age at first period
- your race
You will have lower levels of reproductive hormones, especially estrogen. Low estrogen can cause:
- hot flushes and night sweats
- mood swings, depression, and difficulty concentrating
- vaginal dryness, painful intercourse, and urinary incontinence
- skin thinning and decreased elasticity
Lower androgen levels can contribute to the loss of sex drive.
Be sure to report abnormal vaginal bleeding to the doctor that might be caused by a precancerous or cancerous uterus or endometrial lining.
Lower levels of reproductive hormones also increase the risk of osteoporosis, bone fractures, heart attack, and stroke.
Your estrogen levels will continue to decrease, so vaginal dryness and hot flashes may continue. As a result, your risk for related diseases like osteoporosis increases.
Consider bone health, alcohol and tobacco use, cardiovascular risk, and cancer screening and prevention. Be sure to address these with your doctor. Together, you can discuss lifestyle changes to help maintain your health and vitality. In addition, menopausal symptoms like hot flashes may respond to hormone replacement therapy.
Treatment options may not affect menopause weight gain
- Hormone therapy. Estrogen therapy is the most effective treatment option for relieving menopausal hot flashes
- Vaginal estrogen
- Low-dose antidepressants
- Gabapentin (Gralise, Horizant, Neurontin)
- Clonidine (Catapres, Kapvay)
- Medications to prevent or treat osteoporosis
Wherever you are…
…in your perimenopause, menopause, or postmenopause, come in to see Dr. Nangrani for a checkup. If you have uncomfortable symptoms or menopause weight gain, we may be able to make you feel better.
For more information, see The North American Menopause Society site.
You are our top priority at Vedas and Woodlands Functional Family Medicine. In The Woodlands, Texas, our North Houston office is minutes from I-45 (Houston’s North Freeway). We offer a free consultation for personalized information. Come get acquainted with Dr. Nangrani, our board-certified Medical Director. She has practiced for over 15 years. Please call our office to schedule your consultation at (281) 298-5476. We look forward to seeing you soon!