The fluctuations of your hormones during menopause could affect your weight, and not for the better. There are three main hormones that are active during your menopausal years: estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.
Although testosterone is usually associated with male sexuality, it is produced in small quantities in women, and its importance must not be underestimated. Testosterone in women is responsible for sexual health and development. It also plays a role in the menstrual cycle, and contributes to a woman's libido. Furthermore, it has an important role in determining your strength and mental agility, and can affect your mood and confidence.
Here's where it gets a bit more complicated; testosterone and your body's fat levels are intrinsically linked, so fluctuations in hormone levels can cause weight loss or gain. Read on to find out more about how testosterone can affect your weight during and after menopause, and what you can do to avoid testosterone-driven weight gain.
How Can Testosterone Affect My Weight during Menopause?
Throughout your life, your body produces steadily declining levels of testosterone. However, when you reach menopause, these levels, along with estrogen and progesterone, can fall even lower. Studies have shown that there is a relation between body mass index (BMI) and low testosterone levels. As weight increases, testosterone levels decrease. Therefore, as testosterone naturally decreases in your body, it is possible that you gain a little extra menopause-induced weight.
What Can I Do to Avoid Testosterone Weight Gain during Menopause?
There are a number of ways you can counter-balance the effect of testosterone on your weight during menopause. Some of these are lifestyle changes that you can make, and others require medical treatment. To avoid gaining weight as a result of your testosterone levels, you might like to try:
Maintaining a balanced diet
Cut down on your snacking, make sure you have fruit and vegetables with every meal, and drink plenty of water. If you are struggling to manage your diet to combat your menopausal weight gain, your doctor or a dietician may have some useful advice. Ensuring that you are eating healthily is the most effective way to combat your testosterone weight gain.
It is important that your balanced diet is complemented by regular exercise. Do 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise five times a week, and you will not only keep your weight down, but will feel healthier and have more energy. You could combine your exercise with a new hobby; start swimming, take a class, or join a sports team for some regular physical activity.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
In severe cases, and if you are suffering other problems of testosterone imbalance, you may wish to consider HRT. HRT is when external hormones are introduced into the body to balance its fluctuating natural hormones. However, there are dangerous health risks associated with HRT, and it can have unpleasant side effects; it is worth consulting a doctor before deciding on this kind of medication.