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Understanding the menopausal belly

Understanding the menopausal belly
Oct 7 2022

Menopause can bring a variety of changes to your body. You may experience symptoms such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness, insomnia and more. You may also notice changes to your belly shape and size. When you reach menopause, gynoid fat (found between your hips and upper thighs) often decreases, while android fat (found between your breasts and hips) increases. At the same time, the fat insulating your abdominal organs — visceral fat — can also increase. There are many reasons why body shape changes during menopause, including weight gain from decreased muscle mass and a slowed metabolism. Other factors such as less physical activity, less sleep, an unhealthy diet and caregiver stress may also add pounds. And lower estrogen levels may play a role. The good news is there are steps you can take to combat weight gain and build your health in the years around menopause:

  1. Exercise regularly.

Exercise can help keep weight off. Physicians recommend at least 30 minutes of physical activity on most days of the week to improve health and mood in general. Ask your doctor about what exercise routine might be right for you.

  1. Maintain a healthy diet.

It’s important to integrate vitamins, minerals, fiber, calcium and other essential nutrients in your diet. Try your best to reduce your simple carbohydrate intake. Keep in mind your body does not need as many calories post-menopause as it did pre-menopause.

  1. Menopausal hormone therapy/hormone replacement therapy.

Some studies show that prescribed low-dose estrogen or a combination of estrogen and progestin may help reduce visceral fat and body mass index. This treatment isn’t right for everyone, so be sure to discuss the benefits and risks involved with your doctor.

Weight and shape changes during menopause — and the stress they may cause —are completely normal. However, if your menopause symptoms are negatively impacting your daily life, talk to your doctor about what steps you can take to make the transition easier.

Sources: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health; and Next Avenue.

To learn more about menopause, we invite you to register to attend Senior Care Network’s Noon Hour lecture All About Menopause on October 12, 2022.