Is Weight Gain a Natural Part of Menopause?

Weight Gain and Menopause

Maintaining body weight within typical values for your body can be an increasingly difficult task with increasing age.

This can become increasingly problematic for women in the perimenopausal phase. 

The perimenopausal phase is a transition period during which your body goes through hormonal changes that begin with menstrual irregularities and gradually lead to a complete cessation of menstrual cycles. 

Aside from the uncomfortable symptoms such as hot flashes and mood swings, the hormonal changes associated with menopause are seen as responsible for an increase in weight gain, especially around the abdomen.

But is weight gain a natural part of menopause or is it something that can be prevented?

Why Does Weight Gain Occur During Perimenopause?

Estrogen is not just a hormone necessary for reproductive functions, but it also plays an essential role in our body’s metabolism.

Estrogen can also influence how our body utilizes starch and blood sugar and lower estrogen levels have been associated with increased insulin resistance.

The decline in estrogen levels can lower the metabolism rate, which is the rate by which our body utilizes stored energy. 

Researchers have demonstrated in numerous studies that a women’s body composition can undergo considerable changes (such as abdominal fat deposition and increased body fat percentages) during menopause.

Such studies have also attempted to understand whether weight gain during menopause is a stand-alone phenomenon associated with increasing age or if hormonal changes are the primary culprit for the weight gain.

Researchers have concluded that weight gain is not solely a consequence of hormonal changes but is a combination of many changes that occur as a natural part of aging, such as lower activity level, family history of obesity, lifestyle choices, AND hormonal changes.

The studies found that the fall in estrogen levels during menopause was associated with an increased tendency for fat deposition in the abdominal area. This finding is further supported by the fact that patients suffering from Turner syndrome suffer from central obesity. It is well known that most women with Turner syndrome eventually develop premature ovarian failure that causes a drastic decline in estrogen levels, simulating menopausal hormonal changes earlier in life.

Several studies have provided substantial evidence that menopause is directly correlated with a rapid rise in body fat mass and abdominal circumference. 

How Does Weight Gain Impact Perimenopausal Women?

While menopause is inevitable, the symptoms associated with menopause can be managed via hormone replacement therapies and traditional herbal medicines. But, with this in mind, obesity and weight gain can worsen the symptoms associated with menopause, increase the risk of cardiovascular disorders, and negatively impact a person’s overall psychosocial wellbeing.

Reductions in body weight can improve some symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes, and has a positive influence on mental health.   

How Can Menopausal Weight Gain Be Managed?

Many practical and easy management strategies are available to control weight gain associated with increasing age and menopause. Some common examples include:

Yoga for Menopause

Physical Activity

As exercise is inversely related to waist circumference and body weight, physically active women are less likely to be affected by the weight gain associated with menopause. Participating actively in physical activities can lower abdominal fat deposition, body fat percentage, and higher lean body mass even in women nearing menopause. Sixty minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, including daily resistance exercises, is mainly sufficient to maintain average body weight. 

Bringing awareness to our everyday activities is as equally important as exercise. Like weight gain, inactivity can creep up on us in our daily life, and we become unaware of how little activity we do during the day.

While we might do our morning walk, if we sit for the rest of the day, this can affect our metabolic rate and lead to “sitting disease.” The sitting disease is a term coined by the scientific community and is commonly used when referring to metabolic syndrome and the ill-effects of an overly sedentary lifestyle.

Increasing research supports the “sitting disease” and includes important reminders of why movement is so important during our entire life span.

Calorie Restriction

In combination with exercise, restricting calorie intake is best to control body weight and abdominal fat deposition.

A 5% decrease in body weight achieved with diet modification and exercise can prevent not only obesity but also decreases your likelihood of developing high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. These minor changes can significantly reduce your risks of developing more severe health complications like stroke and heart attacks. However, make sure that you choose a healthy way to diet with sufficient protein and essential nutrient intake.

Natural remedies 

Traditional treatment strategies for menopause, including various herbs and even yoga, have been around for centuries. Several studies have also found them to be an effective and safe alternative to assisting with the management of menopause and perimenopause symptoms. 

Low impact meditative exercises like yoga and Tai Chi are great options for anyone looking to increase their daily exercise while reducing stress.


Acupuncture, a popular traditional Chinese medicine therapy, may also induce weight loss by regulating endocrine functions. A study on laser acupuncture found beneficial effects of this therapy on BMI with similar efficacy as anti-obesity pharmacotherapy. 

It is important to note that acupuncture is an adjunct therapy, meaning that it is intended to be practiced in addition to other healthy lifestyle choices like eating a nutritious diet and exercising regularly.


A natural alternative to estrogen is phytoestrogens, which are non-steroidal compounds derived from certain plants, including hops (Humulus lupulus), flaxseed, soy, and red clover. Hops, red clover, and soy contain other compounds with estrogen-like effects, such as daidzein, 8-PN, and isoflavones. Including these foods into your diet is a great way to support your overall health naturally.

Black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa)

Black Cohosh, a flowering plant found in North America, may be beneficial in managing menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and profuse sweating. Recent studies on the impact of Black Cohosh on menopausal symptoms have demonstrated positive effects on weight gain and metabolic disorders.

Evening primrose oil (Oenothera biennis) 

Evening primrose oil possesses anti-inflammatory properties and is rich in omega-six fatty acids. As per a small study on the treatment of 56 menopausal women suffering from hot flashes and sweating with primrose oil capsules for six months, primrose oil can provide significant relief from nighttime hot flashes, which can improve sleep, decrease stress, and improve the overall health.

The Bottom Line

Weight gain is frequently associated with menopause, but it is manageable with some safe strategic approaches. You can use these strategies alone or in combination to attain your desired body weight and BMI to better reduce your risk of developing additional health complications as you transition into menopause.


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