Why Estrogen Is Linked To Weight Gain

Posted: November 2, 2020 By: Comment: 16

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As women grow older, maintaining their weight gets more and more challenging. The pattern of their weight gain also starts changing as it shifts from their hips to their abdomen. This change usually occurs during the premenopausal and menopausal period. While there could be lifestyle reasons for this, such as lack of exercise, the most common reason is hormonal fluctuations. 

The most common hormone associated with weight gain is estrogen. To understand how estrogen can lead to weight gain, let’s understand both the pattern of fat and the role of this hormone.

Fat Gain with Age

The interesting, and somewhat unfortunate, aspect of weight gain with age is the change in its pattern or how it is distributed on the body. Throughout most of their adulthood women put on weight around their hips and thighs. But with age, the weight gain starts appearing at their abdominal area. This becomes even more usual post-menopause. 

Known as visceral fat, this fat is different from the usual fat deposit, which is subcutaneous in nature (that is, it lies just under the skin). Visceral fat, on the other hand, lies deeper, in between organs. It is more difficult to get rid off when compared to subcutaneous fat, which is why losing fat becomes more difficult with age. It is also associated with chronic conditions like diabetes and heart diseases. 

Roll of Estrogen

Pre-menopause and menopause is also the period when women start experiencing fluctuations in their hormone levels. One of these hormones, estrogen has a role to play in fat regulation. A type of estrogen known as estradiol is the one responsible for regulating metabolism and weight. When its production falls during menopause, we see weight gain. The lack of estrogen can also effect the way the body metabolises starch and blood sugar, which again leads to weight gain.

Aging is a common reason for estrogen fluctuation. But it can be caused due to other factors as well, such as:

  • PCOS
  • Anorexia
  • Over-exercising
  • Removal of ovaries
  • Childbirth or breastfeeding

However, the fall in estrogen is just one reason why the body starts gaining weight with age. You are less likely to exercise as you grow older and your body uses energy less efficiently. Hence, it is important that you pay attention to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. 

How to deal with estrogen imbalance?

If you are experiencing a drop in estrogen, it is best to meet a doctor. The symptoms of lowered estrogen are:

  • Depression/anxiety
  • Hot flashes
  • Irregular menstrual periods
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Sleep difficulty
  • Lowered sex drive
  • Memory problems
  • Dry skin

If you experience any of these symptoms, book an appointment with your doctor. You will most likely be asked for comprehensive blood tests to map your hormonal health, followed by questions on how your hormonal cycle works. In most cases, doctors recommend simple lifestyle changes. In certain cases, treatments like hormone replacement therapy may also be advised. The two essential components will be:

  • Regular exercise 
  • Proper diet

Estrogen does play an important part in our weight regulation. Apart from age, certain conditions like PCOS can cause fluctuations in our estrogen level and result in weight gain. However, this can be countered with proper diet, exercise, and some lifestyle changes.

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