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What exactly causes weight gain during and after menopause?

By Anonymous October 27, 2011 - 3:01pm
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I just had my uterus and ovaries removed because of fibroids. I am on Divigel. I am 47 but feel and act like 27 so I was shocked when the doctors all recommended removal of the ovaries since natural menopause was probably a few years away. What do I need to look out for with weight gain? I've always been thin and am worried. Thanks!!!

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That is a very good question.
Here is what the experts at the Mayo Clinic say,

"The hormonal changes of menopause may make you more likely to gain weight around your abdomen, rather than your hips and thighs. Hormonal changes alone don't necessarily trigger weight gain after menopause, however. Instead, the weight gain is usually related to a variety of lifestyle and genetic factors.

For example, menopausal women tend to exercise less than other women, which can lead to weight gain. In addition, muscle mass naturally diminishes with age. If you don't do anything to replace the lean muscle you lose, your body composition will shift to more fat and less muscle — which slows down the rate at which you burn calories. If you continue to eat as you always have, you're likely to gain weight.

For many women, genetic factors play a role in weight gain after menopause. If your parents or other close relatives carry extra weight around the abdomen, you're likely to do the same. Sometimes, factors such as children leaving — or returning — home, divorce, the death of a spouse or other life changes may contribute to weight gain after menopause. For others, a sense of contentment or simply letting go leads to weight gain."


October 28, 2011 - 8:26am

I too was thin all my life. I ate whatever I wanted. If I wanted to lose weight, I could do it in a weekend. I could wear whatever I wanted. I had 4 kids and physically I still looked like I did when I was in my 20's. Then I had to have a hysterectomy and my life changed. I literally did not change anything else. I have always eaten like a bird and still do. Nevertheless, the difference is now I weigh 30 lbs heavier. It has been a mind game. No, and I mean no, diet helps you lose the weight. It is so frustrating! Today the only difference is I am not as physically active now because my hip hurts me. Prior I was very active, playing on 3 softball teams then I had to go down to one. I got my soccer license and coached several years for my girls. There is simply just not much information out there. When someone has NOT gone through this stage in his or her life the response generally is to "eat less”, (I eat like a bird so that is not good advice). Could I be more active, yes. It does not explain how I got the weight on in the first place when the only thing I changed was I got a hysterectomy.

What I do know for sure, is that it has to do with hormones, which affect your metabolism. I do not want to take prescribed hormones with all the risks. In addition, getting the "natural" hormones to match is very expensive and your hormone bio's can change 5 minutes after the test. Therefore, by the time you get the natural hormones everything has changed.

In addition, I do know that "a calorie is a calorie is a calorie" does not apply any more as it does not adjust for a person's individual metabolism, nor does it take into account the various other physical and emotional factors that have now entered into the equation and are creating obstacles. You may have overlapping issues that need to be addressed simultaneously as well.

The one place I found some information that finally made sense, for the first time in 12 years, was on the Women to Women website. Marcelle Pick, MSN, OB/GYN NP, co-founded this site. All Marcelle's information was gathered from decades of experience, her patients and her own, to solve the mystery of stubborn weight gain. She educates you on the complex web of connections between organs and systems, hormones & other biochemical’s that affect your metabolism balance.

I got excited when I took the multiply choice quiz for digestive sensitivities, hormonal imbalance, adrenal imbalance, neurotransmitter imbalance, inflammatory issues and detoxification issues. This helped give me a focus on what to work on first. Once you heal one imbalance, the other imbalances will also follow suit. However, without this information you really are lost. I know, I searched for years and talked to many, many doctors, nurses and dietitians who could not help me. I also believe many did not have an interest in finding a solution, it is very complicated and there is not a cookie cutter solution.

I hope to help others who are as frustrated and confused as I have felt. I will go back to school to become a nutritionist/dietitian specializing in this one huge issue. I cannot do it today because I have to find a full time job again (my company declared bankruptcy and we were all left out in the cold) and all my life savings was spent taking care of my dying husband.
However, I do promise you this, I will get this education so I can help women going through perimenopause and menopause so they do not have to go through this same mind game and be told to just "eat less" as the solution to a very complex problem.

October 27, 2011 - 6:37pm
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