Unraveling the Link Between Menopause and Abdominal Weight Gain

The Pathogenesis of Body Composition Changes at Menopause

During menopause, there are a number of changes that occur in a woman’s body, including changes in hormone levels, body composition, and energy expenditure.

One of the most significant changes that occurs at menopause is a decline in estrogen levels. Estrogen is a hormone that plays a number of important roles in the body, including regulating metabolism and fat storage. When estrogen levels decline, it can lead to changes in body composition, including a decrease in fat-free mass (muscle and bone tissue) and an increase in fat mass.

Another change that occurs at menopause is an increase in follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels. FSH is a hormone that helps to regulate the production of eggs in the ovaries. When estrogen levels decline, FSH levels rise. This can also lead to changes in metabolism and fat storage, which can contribute to weight gain.

In addition to changes in hormone levels, menopause can also lead to changes in energy expenditure and spontaneous activity. Energy expenditure is the amount of energy that the body uses to maintain its basic functions. Spontaneous activity is the amount of activity that is done without any conscious effort, such as fidgeting or walking around. Both energy expenditure and spontaneous activity tend to decrease after menopause, which can contribute to weight gain.

A study published by Journal of Mid-life Health1 suggests that women gain an average of 1-2 pounds per year after menopause. Other studies have found that women gain as much as 10-15 pounds during this time. Below are some of the highlights from the study:

What Causes Menopause-Related Weight Gain?

There are a number of factors that can contribute to menopause-related weight gain. One factor is the decline in estrogen levels. Estrogen is a hormone that helps to regulate metabolism and fat storage. When estrogen levels decline, it can lead to changes in body composition, including a decrease in fat-free mass (muscle and bone tissue) and an increase in fat mass.

Another factor that can contribute to menopause-related weight gain is the increase in follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels. FSH is a hormone that helps to regulate the production of eggs in the ovaries. When estrogen levels decline, FSH levels rise. This can lead to changes in metabolism and fat storage, which can contribute to weight gain.

How Can I Prevent Menopause-Related Weight Gain?

There are a number of things that you can do to prevent menopause-related weight gain. These include:

  • Eating a healthy diet: Eating a healthy diet that is low in calories and fat can help you to maintain a healthy weight.
  • Exercising regularly: Exercise can help you to burn calories and build muscle, both of which can help you to lose weight and keep it off.
  • Getting enough sleep: Getting enough sleep can help to regulate your metabolism and reduce your risk of weight gain.
  • Managing stress: Stress can lead to unhealthy eating habits and weight gain. Finding healthy ways to manage stress can help you to avoid weight gain.

If you are concerned about menopause-related weight gain, talk to your doctor. They can help you to develop a personalized plan to help you lose weight and keep it off.

What Else Should I Know?

In addition to the factors mentioned above, there are a few other things that you should know about menopause-related weight gain.

  • Weight gain is more likely to occur in women who have a family history of obesity.
  • Weight gain is also more likely to occur in women who are sedentary and who have unhealthy eating habits.
  • Weight gain can be more difficult to lose after menopause, so it is important to start making healthy lifestyle changes early.

Here’s something to think about: women going through menopause who are overweight tend to have a tougher time with symptoms. Losing weight can boost their mood, self-worth, and overall well-being. And when it comes to intimacy, some studies suggest that obesity can affect satisfaction and function. It’s also worth noting that how we feel about our bodies can deeply impact our mental health. If you are concerned about menopause-related weight gain, talk to your doctor. They can help you to develop a personalized plan to help you lose weight and keep it off.


1 Fenton, Anna. Weight, Shape, and Body Composition Changes at Menopause. Journal of Mid-life Health 12(3):p 187-192, Jul–Sep 2021. | DOI: 10.4103/jmh.jmh_123_21

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