Can estrogen levels affect weight gain?

Many women report that their weight is impacted by increasing estrogen levels , particularly during menopause. They may find that they are gaining weight, or that weight loss is more difficult.

Some sources of estrogen are linked to how weight gain affects the body. Thus any changes in their rates may result in changes in body weight.

So, what is the connection between the levels of a woman’s estrogen and her weight?

For more detail on this trend, and what to do about weight gain associated with estrogen, read on.

Menopause, estrogen, and weight

Menopause causes a drop in estrogen levels.
Menopause causes a drop in estrogen levels.

There are several reasons why estrogen levels can be small in women.

Menopause is the commonest cause for low estrogen. That is when the reproductive hormones of a woman die, and menstruation ceases. Most women in their lives find they are gaining weight during this period.

One reason people may gain weight after menopause is that the hormone levels change.

During menopause one source of estrogen called estradiol decreases. The hormone helps control body weight and metabolism. Lower estradiol levels can contribute to greater weight gain.

Women can experience weight gain around their hips and thighs all the way through their lives. Nevertheless, women continue to gain in weight around their mid-section and abdomen during menopause.

This form of fat gain appears to build up in the abdomen and around organs, where visceral fat is known.

Visceral fat is potentially very risky. This has been connected to many other medical conditions, among them include:

Along with increasing levels of estrogen, older women may appear to be less active and have less muscle mass, meaning they consume less calories during the day.

Such factors can all increase the risk of weight gain for a woman during the menopause process.

Such age-related factors that play a greater role in the weight gain than changes in the levels of estrogen.

In line with this, one review of 2012 studies concluded that the weight gain did not seem to be affected by menopause-related hormone changes.

Other reasons for estrogen imbalance

Menopause is not the sole reason a woman may have low levels of estrogen. Certain possible reasons for the difference of estrogen include:

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

A lady having upset stomach
PCOS causes cysts on the ovaries and may affect hormone levels.

PCOS is a disease in which a woman has several small cysts and many hormonal imbalances on the ovaries. They may have high levels of testosterone, and an imbalance in levels of estrogen and progesterone.

Women with this disorder tend to have weight gain, insulin resistance and heart disease issues.

Lactation

Estrogen rates remain small after giving birth to a woman and when she is breast-feeding. This hormonal adjustment helps stimulate the development of milk and instantly prevents ovulation and any further conception.

Ovary removal

A woman who has surgically removed both of her ovaries is going through sudden menopause. She won’t release eggs or contain progesterone or estrogen any more.

Anorexia

Anorexia is a serious eating disorder in which one does not take enough calories. Such deficiency puts their bodies in a state of starvation and will reduce the amount of oestrogen that their bodies contain.

Vigorous exercise

Due to low body fat concentrations, intense or severe exercise has been shown to decrease estrogen production.

What is estrogen?

Estrogen is one of the two main female sex hormones involved in puberty starting and menstrual cycle. This also has many other key functions including:

  • helping to control blood cholesterol levels
  • promoting bone health
  • protecting the brain and mood

The ovaries, which are two tiny glands in the lower pelvis, are primarily responsible for estrogen development. The adrenal glands and fatty tissue produce small amounts of oestrogen as well.

There are three main types of estrogen:

  1. Estrone, or E1, which the body produces after menopause.
  2. Estradiol or E2, which women of childbearing age produce.
  3. Estriol or E3, which the body produces during pregnancy.

Symptoms of low estrogen

Symptoms of low estrogen include:

  • irregular or missed periods
  • hot flashes
  • night sweats
  • insomnia
  • vaginal dryness
  • low libido
  • moodiness or irritability
  • headaches
  • dry skin

Women having any of those symptoms should discuss them with a doctor. A doctor can perform a simple blood test to assess oestrogen levels and decide whether to consider an estrogen imbalance.

Women should keep track of their menstrual periods, including when they begin and end, as well as any other symptoms or problems they face. Having this information readily available can help a doctor diagnose hormonal imbalances that might exist.

How to manage weight gain

Even if it is due to an estrogen deficiency, maintaining a healthy weight begins with eating well and staying active.

A healthful diet to manage weight means:

  • avoiding processed foods
  • eating lots of fruits and vegetables each day
  • staying hydrated by drinking lots of water
  • avoiding soda, juice, and alcohol
  • including whole grains and lean proteins along with healthful plant-based fats

Furthermore, being active is very important for the control of weight gain associated with estrogen. Besides daily aerobic exercise, such as jogging, swimming, or walking, people should be incorporating strength training to help develop muscle and encourage healthy bones.

Outlook

Weight gain is a common concern among menopause-achieving women. The easiest way to control weight gain is by making balanced diets and lifestyle changes.

People will address any questions they might have about weight gain or hormone imbalances with their doctor.

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