Weight loss: Doctor shares reason women over 45 put on weight – ‘It’s not the menopause’

Gabby Logan says its important to talk to men about menopause

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Many women experience weight gain as they get older, especially those who go through menopause. But is there a definite correlation between weight gain and menopause? Express.co.uk spoke to Doctor Verity Biggs, an NHS GP and Trainer, and also a Private Women’s Health and Menopause Doctor at H3Health.co.uk about this and what her advice was for anyone in this situation looking to lose weight. 

Why do women put on weight as they get older? 

Doctor Verity said: “Weight gain is common as we age, for men and women and this is part of the normal ageing process. 

“This is due to several factors, being less active, but also change in metabolism and fat distribution. 

“Women typical store fat around their middles, causing shape change.”

Why do women find it harder to lose weight as they get older? 

Doctor Verity added: “Losing weight as we age can be due to several factors, some people are less active, or can’t be as active due to medical conditions and age joints which cause pain but also the ageing process is against us.”

What is menopause? 

Doctor Verity explained: “Menopause as a term, simply means that your periods have stopped. 

“This is classed as 12 months of being period free. 

“But the symptoms themselves aren’t that simple and can go on for years before and after your periods stopping.” 

Why is there such a stigma/taboo around menopause? What do you think needs to be done to change this? 

Doctor Verity answered: “Previously it just wasn’t discussed, centuries ago, women were locked up in mental institutes as they had ‘gone mad’, and often women would die soon after menopause. 

“Periods and mental health, in general, have always been less openly discussed and our mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers were taught not to discuss these things. 

“Times are changing as we realise the longer-term impact of menopause on our physical and mental health. 

“We are living longer and working longer and need to maintain our health for as long as possible.

“We need to be open and honest and continue the current trend in recognising these effects on both us as individuals, but also on our partners, our family, and the wider environment.”

What symptoms does menopause present? 

Doctor Verity said: “These can be hugely varying.

“They can be classed as vasomotor: hot flushes, night sweats, and poor sleep; physical symptoms such as vaginal dryness, bladder irritability, itching, joint pains; and also brain effects such as mood changes, brain fog, memory problems, concentration problems and low libido. 

“The severity of these symptoms can fluctuate and vary for all. Some may be very minor but others severe.” 

How are these symptoms treated? 

The expert revealed: “Treatment for symptoms can also vary. 

“The NICE guidelines are clear that HRT is considered the best for vasomotor symptoms such as flushing and night sweats, but also will help with most other symptoms. 

“Other treatments can be local vaginal treatments, antidepressants can be used, and other remedies and therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy CBT, and we must think about improving and optimising lifestyle as well, keep active, drink less alcohol, not smoking for example.” 

How does menopause affect a woman’s weight? Is there an average weight gain during menopause? 

Doctor Verity explained: “Often menopause is blamed for weight gain, but it is actually the ageing process itself and the change in fat distribution – women store fat in later years around their middle. 

“There is no typical amount of weight gain, and there could be other reasons for weight gain, i.e. a knee injury, arthritis, lack of time and motivation.” 

How can a woman lose weight when experiencing menopause – are there certain diets to follow or exercises to do? 

Doctor Verity said: “There are no set diets or plans to follow to help lose weight during the menopause and we should make long-term changes to our lifestyle, move more, eat healthy for example. 

“But what is important, is protecting our bone health by exercising and in particular, weight-bearing exercise, as bone loss occurs after menopause when our oestrogen levels fall.” 

What other changes to the body does menopause bring? 

Doctor Verity added: “Menopause and the falling levels of Oestrogen affect everything as we have Oestrogen receptors everywhere in our bodies. 

“You can expect to see changes externally – hair, skin, nails for example, but muscle strength including the pelvic floor can weaken, aches and pains in joints, mood changes, memory problems.” 

What’s your one piece of advice for anyone experiencing menopause right now? 

Doctor Verity replied: “For anyone experiencing menopause symptoms it is firstly important to talk about it, talk to your friends and colleagues and you will soon realise you are not alone. 

“If any particular symptoms are impacting on your wellbeing then seek medical help. 

“There are lots of resources and apps available now.” 

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