The menopause is a life change experienced by women aged around 50 years old, although it can often occur anytime between the ages of 40 and 55. Defined as the end of the last menstrual period, the menopause can bring about a range of symptoms. These include mood swings, excessive perspiration, urinal and vaginal problems, hot flushes, emotional problems, vaginal bleeding, and various other symptoms. Many women also find that they experience weight gain during the menopausal years.
Although many women do experience weight gain when going through menopause, the results of various studies have shown that it is not the menopause itself that causes weight gain but the various bodily and lifestyle changes that are brought about as a result of the change of life. This includes factors such as reduced metabolism, lower levels of activity, and stress. For instance, the menopause can catalyze various emotional issues, and this can lead to comfort eating for many, which generally results in weight gain.
In order to combat excessive weight gain during the menopause, women need to make sure that they lead as healthy a lifestyle as possible. This is true both in relation to activity levels, and what they eat.
It is important to remember that the menopause can affect a number of physiological and psychological areas. For example, menopause can affect the function of the thyroid, and an under-active thyroid can result in weight gain. The mood swings and emotional issues that come about as a result of menopause can result in appetite changes and even uncharacteristic comfort eating. Fatigue or depression can lead to a reduction in physical activity.
Weight gain brings about a range of health risks if it puts you at a seriously overweight level. There are indications that weight gain during the menopause could actually increase the risk of breast cancer, although this risk can be reduced by the same amount - or even more - if the weight is lost after menopause.
In order to combat weight gain during menopause it is important to take sensible steps towards maintaining a healthy weight. This means a balanced and sensible diet, which is rich in vitamins and minerals and low in fat and calories. By at least supplying your body with the nutrients it needs, cravings can be better controlled. If your body is under-nourished, the inclination to junk food can be greater.
You should also ensure that you do not let your levels of physical activity slip during peri-menopause. In times of deep emotional flux, this is easy to do. However, if you find you're having problems with your weight, or stress, exercise really does help. Find exercise or physical activities you really enjoy, and perhaps seek a buddy to work out with. It can be easier to motivate yourself to continue fitness activities with the support of a friend.
Read more on menopause , including about the benefits of hormone replacement therapy , here.