Weight gain at menopause is very common.
There are many factors at play, including:
However, the process of menopause is highly individual. It varies from woman to woman.
During perimenopause, progesterone levels decline slowly and steadily, while estrogen levels fluctuate greatly from day to day and even within the same day.
In the early part of perimenopause, the ovaries often produce extremely high amounts of estrogen. This is due to impaired feedback signals between the ovaries, hypothalamus, and pituitary gland (3Trusted Source).
Later in perimenopause, when menstrual cycles become more irregular, the ovaries produce very little estrogen. They produce even less during menopause.
Some studies suggest that high estrogen levels may promote fat gain. This is because high estrogen levels are associated with weight gain and higher body fat during the reproductive years.
From puberty until perimenopause, women tend to store fat in their hips and thighs as subcutaneous fat. Although it can be hard to lose, this type of fat doesn’t increase disease risk very much.
However, during menopause, low estrogen levels promote fat storage in the belly area as visceral fat, which is linked to insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other health problems.