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Do women change shape/put on weight at menopause?

(25 Posts)
moondog Tue 16-Sep-08 21:00:58

As my boss asserts they do.
Or is she making excuses re troughing?

misi Tue 16-Sep-08 22:28:26

yes they do, all too easily.
testosterone defines a mans physique as oestrogen does in women. the menopause means different things to different women. those that were oestrogen dominant can have quite dramitic effects, those that were more progesterone dominant may have similar big changes but in the opposite way, some women just produce less of both and have little outward affect, others start to produce more of one than the other for a while, as a last spurt by the body then both hormones drop off quite sharply.

what may happen in the scenario you say is if progesterone is the first to diminish leaving an excess of oestrogen, which defines shape and weight. oestrogen being the ''growth'' hormone of the two induces a woman to lay down fat mostly around the hips and bum so not only putting on weight but changing the shape of their lower bodies (the thighs also get extra fat layed down too). when oestrogen levels start to fall, a woman may then loose some of this fat or not, those who produce less oestrogen first often will loose weight and shape (as progesterone has the opposite effect of oestrogen).

excess oestrogen in relation to progesterone also increase appetite as oestrogen is the one that primes the body for pregnancy so to lay down fat reserves it tells you to eat more, double whammy really!!

moondog Thu 18-Sep-08 21:19:58

Thanks Misi.
Blimey,you know your stuff!

SlartyBartFast Thu 18-Sep-08 21:21:11

does it give you facial hair too?

Piffle Thu 18-Sep-08 21:22:13

My mil put on two stone after being sylph like
My mum turned waif like and lost two
My mum smokes mil doesn't
Both had 3 kids
Mil had hrt
My mum didn't

FrayedKnot Thu 18-Sep-08 21:28:15

Hang on, I already have facial hair and weight gain (well I would if I ate what I did when I was 20).

And this is just going to get worse?

oh joy

misi Fri 19-Sep-08 12:01:24

facial hair will be an increase in testosterone levels. all woman produce testosterone like all men produce oestrogen. when going through menopausal times, some womens testerosterone levels may not increase but will become a greater percentage of hormone levels as the oestrogen production tails off, so facial hair can increase too.

when menopause is over and oestrogen production has reduced significantly, weight gain should stop as should changes in shape. trouble is, that once the fat cells have been created, they can never be destroyed/got rid of by the body, so as they are there, the body will have thoughts about filling the cells with fat at every chance they can and with your thyroxine levels diminishing too, (everyones does as they age but women's levels drop quicker as they are not longer able to concieve and is why the majority of hypothyroid sufferers are older women), lower metabolic rates also tend to increase weight. all is not doom and gloom though. to all my female clients 'over a certain age' I reccommend they have thyroid blood tests every so often during and after menopause and is something that every women especially should ask their GP about. the simplest and most accurate way of determining thyroid probs though is with a simple mercury type thermometer at home which is the other thing I reccommend if the GP won't give thyroid blood tests as a routine. (my BIL's mum was always on the go, an old school cookwho couldn't sit still. 3 years ago she complained she had really slowed down and at 74 we thought it was possibly a good idea but then I saw her and told her to get a thyroid test done, she went onto 25mcg only and is now on the go all the time and has lost weight and is near to her old 'fighting fit' weight!!)

PCOS is a oestrogen based problem that actually encourages the body to convert some into testosterone, thats why women with PCOS are easier to spot, hairy upper lips and hairy arms (not all women with darker or fuller hair on their bodies have PCOS I know but it is a good indicator for investigation)

moondog grin funnily enough, my two main areas of expertise are hormone health (especially female hormone health) and sports nutrition, it did get embarrassing sometimes when in my shop/clinic as most of the women would come to me for advice rather than my ex (also a herbalist), one woman actually got her boob out in the shop to ask me what I thought of her nipple blush (she had an lump that was also red and sore), I also got a reputation for sorting out vaginal problems blush blush, vaginal dryness is common amongst post menopausal women and after sorting out one or 2, I had a rush of referrals, the local womens group in that town was well attended apparently and very communicative about their problems hmm

largeginandtonic Fri 19-Sep-08 12:03:29

My mum put on a stone and a half having been the same weight for her entire life.

Her chest size also tripled from a B to D!

She is very unhappy about it but after 3 years is starting to accept it.

largeginandtonic Fri 19-Sep-08 12:04:56

She was on HRT for a while too, calm the hot flushes and general psychoticness.

She has had 4 children and has never smoked.

OrmIrian Fri 19-Sep-08 12:08:28

Mum did. Loads.

Which is why I am so paranoid about staying slimmish these days. I'm heading that way and I don't want to get as big as she did. So I am trying to get some kind of control before the event.

FioFio Fri 19-Sep-08 12:11:56

Message withdrawn

OrmIrian Fri 19-Sep-08 12:16:16

Really fio?

I hope I do. Mum had a hellish time. MIL too to a lesser extent.

FioFio Fri 19-Sep-08 12:20:04

Message withdrawn

FioFio Fri 19-Sep-08 12:20:25

Message withdrawn

OrmIrian Fri 19-Sep-08 12:23:24

sad That would have been a good reason to be moody.

ladystardust Fri 19-Sep-08 12:45:17

I've been reliably informed that shape changing (I have shape where I never had it before shock ) ceases once through it but seeing as I am only at very beginning this may take some time.
Would hate to be stuck with present shape though blush

JaneLumley Fri 19-Sep-08 13:58:46

I have to take oestrogen only for various reasons - complex and a bit private. Can't take progesterone, I fear. Is there anything I can do to stop my tummy getting huger and huger? I'm already permananently on lowcarb and get lots of strenuous exercise. MIsi, thou know-more-than-I? Hints gratefully received.

girlsnextdoor Fri 19-Sep-08 22:44:58

jane lumley- just want to check that you have had a hysterectomy- unless you have you should not take just oestrogen.

Are yohaving regular scans of your uterus if you still have one? The lining will bbuilding up and maybe that could be contributing to the big tum problem?

misi Sun 21-Sep-08 20:41:12

janelumley, I would need to know a bit more to have a chance of giving a hint and to be within that famous ball park!!

I know of a couple of scenario's that would need oestrogen only and no progesterone, but each has its causes and symptoms/side effects.

basic, the oestrogen will cause your body to lay down fat, thats part of its CV if you like, oestrogen gets a woman ready for pregnancy and childbirth and so encourages fat deposition for future use as a food reserve (ie to produce milk after birth). progesterone has the opposite effect, it clears out the uterus if no implantation occurs and generally does not cause fat depostion, thats why after menopause you rarely change shape (unless eating is to an excess) as oestrogen levels drop dramatically whereas progesterone does drop off but not as much therefore becoming more progesterone dominant..

depending on other things too, whether the pituritary is involved, other hormones can be thrown out of kilter too.

if you do not want to post on here, I think I have enabled the CAT option, and I may be able to give a few hints that way if you like?

JaneLumley Mon 22-Sep-08 09:59:52

Sorry, Misi, really kind of you but I don't have a CAT subscription.

Let's say as carefully as I can that I have an undisclosed v. serious chronic condition of more than 10 year's standing, that's virtually untreatable by conventional medicine but that's responded amazingly to oestrogen. It's NOT anything gynae, though I was in perimenopause anyway, which is how I found out that oestrogen had this amazing effect. There is a trial of oestrogen therapy in progress in California for my condition.

girlsnextdoor, I have an intact uterus but I have a big periodlike bleed about once every three months. I have my endometrium checked every 12 months for cancer signs, as that's the risk. I'd be glad to have a hysterectomy but my gynae won't do it because of aforesaid underlying condition. You might have to take it from me that the problems the oestrogen is preventing are significantly worse than breast or endometrial cancer.

What I really want to know is whether there's anything I can do to prevent or slow weight gain?

Cadelaide Mon 22-Sep-08 10:01:12


<<<<hurtles towards menopause in complete denial>>>>

misi Mon 22-Sep-08 13:02:08

janelumley, sorry, didn't realise you had to have a subscription for CAT.

I now have around 5 medical problems in mind, one of which I think I can safely rule out, that of Turner's syndrome? the trouble with oestrogen therapy is that oestrogen does encourage the body to lay down fat.
one thing I would suggest is that at your next blood test, ask the doc for a full thyroid panel or at least a Tft4 and TSH test in case the oestrogen therapy is having an effect on your general metabolism.

all my suggestions would either be to stop the oestrogen and use other natural methods (depending on which of the other 4 conditions it may be) or I would have ideas how to suppress oestrogen dominance but as that is what you are trying to achieve for your condition, that would not be useful!!

there are fat burning nutirents to encourage weight loss and several other things but again, without knowing what I cannot suggest anything in particular as each will contra-indicate in the possible conditions.

all I can suggest for now is that you look up a nutritionaly trained herbalist in your area and go have a chat., enter your postcode and a list should come up, check out their experience and if none suitable, e mail NIMH through the website and ask what you are looking for and they should be able to reccommend someone.

as hormones are involved like this, loosing weight through means other than exercise or diet (if your doc has said this is OK) I would not attempt to take supplements or other treatments without advice as the oestrogen you take may be affected.

if you want to chat more, let me know and I'll set up a temporary e mail and post it here so we can chat 'ofline''

JaneLumley Tue 23-Sep-08 09:49:19

Would love to chat! No, it's not Turner's. And yes, the whole point is oestrogen levels analogous really to 2nd and 3rd tm pregnancy and with similar effects on the tum, I fear.

misi Tue 23-Sep-08 22:01:45

ok, will set one up and let you know

misi Tue 23-Sep-08 22:18:42

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